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Totality at the Side of the Volcano

Total Solar Eclipse on 29. March 2006 near Incesu, Anatolia, Turkey

Experience Report

With the total solar eclipse on 29. March 2006 the first time since 1999 an opportunity arose, not only to experience myself as a participant in a group the fantastic spectacle of the moon’s shadow visit but also to bring close and let experience it to others by my guidance. Different than 1999, when I had appointed one observation site, this time the possibility to short term find a nice observation site fort he solar eclipse was offered by my job as astronomical travel companion of a group of the tour operator Karawane (arranged by Stefan Krause of

The course of the journey already on 27. March began by plane flight via Munich to Ankara. Led by our cultural tour guide Dr. Peter Weiss we had a walk around the center of Ankara at the evening of arrival date. Located there also our hotel, where I introduced into the theme of solar eclipses after the first dinner with the group.

Citadel in Ankara

Citadel in Ankara

Venus over Ankara

Venus over Ankara

At the next day under a cloudless sky we moved with our comfortable bus to Konya, where we visited different madrasahs and mosques on the afternoon.

Some good weather clouds created by thermal lifts did not cause me any concerns. On the late afternoon the weather situation changed in a way that now wind has come up and the clouds spreaded over the mountains, and even a small shower appeared there.

Arrived at the hotel (Özkaymak), soon I located near Internet-Cafe and recognized on the current satellite picture of Turkey the clouds over the mountains. A phone call with Dirk Ewers, who just was at the amphitheater of Side, brought reassurance. There were clouds visibile over the mountains, but clear skies over the sea, so no threatening cloud formation. Anyway it was to avoid the mountains and to tend to drive to the northeast. No sign of the cirrus clouds predicted by

On the evening at the hotel joint presentation event was planned with Stefan Krause of and Alexander Birkner, who accompanied another group for the solar eclipse.

Due to that group coming back later than planned from Cappadocia after the introductory words of Stefan Krause I was the only lecturer of this evening. By a powerpoint presentation I explained the astronomical context and phenomena of different kind of eclipses. After the presentation I gave some hints and information to that theme, and talked with Stefan Krause and Alexander Birkner, who arrived in the meantime, about the upcoming solar eclipse and the last weather forecasts.

After the prediction of a thick cloud band over the zone of totality, the day before, today forecasts were significantly better. The best conditions should occur in eastern directions, where the probability of cirrus clouds should be least.

Stefan Krause had identified two observation sites in northeastern direction near the central line and showed digital pictures of it: A hillside in a rocky area of bare hills, with almost unlimited space and another observation site in a park in the center of the town Sultanhani.

I absolutely preferred an observation in open nature, so only the hillside was considered. But I thought is the area did not provide any more beautiful places, so I planned a search in the surroundings of the hillside near Akörenkisla. So it was to decide at present of our tour leader and the group, that the drive should begin 15 Minutes before departure of the other groups, to aviod an excessive rush in front of the hotel and eventually at the observation site.

The next morning a view out of the hotel room window and during the breakfast confirmed the forecast: In the west and northwest cirrus clouds had appeared at the horizon. They moved displeasing fast from northwestern direction and reached already during the breakfast ca. 10 degrees height above the horizon. Fortunately the cirrus clouds were broken, isolated stripes, that thickened due to the near horizon perspective.

8:15 a.m. departure, leaving Konya to the northeast, direction of Sultanhani. Beginning with the wide and flat anatolean high plateau, until we’ve reached a flat mountain range, the area, that Stefan Krause had visited. Already one crossing before the way described by him I let to turn to the right, direction Yaglibayat. A wide free view into the northeaterly located plane, flat mountians in the southwest, that were higher in easterly directions. A beautiful landscape for an observation site.

I let stop and observed the cloud situation. Still a broken cloud band was almost above us, but freest skies over the plane located in the northeast. There I wanted to go, the area east of the Tuz lake. We drove further through the anatolean villages, that often consisted of traditional brickearth buildings. A wonderful wide and lonely sparse landscape.

We came into the area of the southerly 3-Minute line and used the better developed street up to Karapinar for faster drive. Near Karapinar we had to turn to the left to northern direction, the second street documented in the map had signs and we turned to the left.

I announced, that we now drive to the north as far as possible, to come back to the central zone as near as possible. After Emirgazi the street was worse than the other streets signed equivalent on the map, but the abilities of our bus driver brought us efficiently around the potholes in the gravel road. To the right of us the big volcano Hasan Dag (ca. 3250m) moved more and mote into our sight. The time slipped away and the anatolean high plateau showed an apparently inexhausible vastness, covering their distance jeopardizing more and more the timely arrival at the center line.

When on the one had the buffer time of ca. 45 minutes was over, and further 45 minutes for assembly of the observation equipment impended to commence, on the other hand the easterly of us located Hasan Dag showed its full volcanic magnificence, I wanted to look for an observation site on the next bank, because the beautiful landscape coulisse and a not shortened observation of the partial phase should mehr weigh more than the loss of ca. 20 to 25 seconds of totality. The same idea had Dr. Weiss, who came to me and proposed not to drive further. I let turn right in a peaked angle leading gravel road and stop after ca. 30 meters. On the left side the sparse terrain increased a little. This was out observation site with ca. 3 minutes and 20 seconds of totality. Less than on the central line, but therefore the volcano directly beside us, around us the wideness of the anatolean plane, a little hilly on a bank in front of the volcano.

The ground was flat and rockless, not too hard and not too soft, very good for positioning the observation equipment, that I assembled ca. 300 meters away from the bus, that parked on the border of the street. The group gathered in loose distances of about up to ca. 30 meters around me.

Early enough before the first contact I was prepared of operation with my observation equipment: two parallely mounted refractors (Revue D=60mm, f=910mm and Skywatcher D=70mm, f=700mm) on an ash tree tripod, a Canon EOS500N for focal photography through the Revue refractor on a separate tripod, loosely connected to the telescope tube with a paper board tube (that way the vibrations of the clapping mirror at exposure would not be carried to the telescope), 80x30 binoculars and a new Jenoptik JD5.0z3 digital camera, and a 400ASA oneway camera not being used in Panama.

After announcement of a recognized first contact I began with my photo series at 1820mm: Canon EOS500N with 2x Tele-converter behind the Revue refractor. Only a few sun spots coudl be seen, but therefore they could be observerd a long time during the first partial phase, because they were located in the upper laeft of the sun’s disk, at an area that was covered by the moon late in the phase.

The parallelly mounted SkyWatcher refractor, equipped with Baader visual filter foil (D=5), served for direct observation. Still during the first partial phase I had to do with a satisfying adjusted parallelism of the two telescopes, that the observation and photography would not exclude or interfere with each other.

Views through the telescope again and again found interests of the other travel group members. Also two representative of the nearby villages, I got there was the mayor, - I did not recognize when they joined the group – also they had pleasure with the direct view through the telescope at the partially eclipsed sun. How good, that we’ve got a Turkish speaking tour guide so the communications obviously were not a problem.

It became cooler. I dressed pullover and vest over my t-shirt an. The cirrus clouds were now lightly distributed over the whole sky. The shadows were less sharp as usual. Apparently the cirrus clouds have a high dispersive character, taking the partial solar eclipse typical sharpness out of the shadows.

First partial phase

First partial phase – Solar crescent at 1820mm


The landscape at the observation site during the first partial phase

01:45 p.m. EEST – It has become remarkably darker. Still ca. 15 minutes to go for totality. I have mounted my video camera on a separate tripod in about 5 meters distance. It should record my solar eclipse observation in front of the volcano as continuous video sequence. I switched on the camera and let it run.

Also I prepared my Canon EOS500N for totality, by shooting off my current film, for inserting a new one for totality. I put off the tele-converter, because I wanted to photograph the totally eclipsed sun at 910mm, for getting the corona fitted into the picture also when exposure times were longer. Additionally it was a bit risky for me due to the relatively high solar altitude of over 50 degrees and the horizontal progress of solar movement, at the small ca. one degree sized section of 1820mm, to loose valuable time, in case the sun would not be centered in the field of view.

I set the manual triple exposure at 1/125s, 1/500s and 1/30s and took some pictures of the decreasing solar crescent. I realised an increasing dullness in front of me. The sky between my two telescopes tops looks dull and hazy with a fewer and fewer glistening sun. Is the crescent visible? A short and squinted view shows me the crescent for a moment within the light cirrus clouds, but it is too bright to watch it directly. The lunar shadow should near from the right ahead. It’s heralding now slowly, moves directly towards us with a speed of over 3000 km/h.

Just a few minutes to totality. I announce a hint to watch for shadow bands – the group had spread a cloth, and some had gathered there. But I viewed to the sun and the sky below it. Taken filters off both telescopes and there it is, the umbra. Right before me a gate to darkness is opening. I see it come, already a bit dusky at the inner horizon, and the same time I see with the naked eye how the maybe 20 degrees small solar crescent holes up at the upper left corner of the sun and breaks. And there is the corona, it prevails against the glaring beams of the breaking crescent. Circular the diamond ring! - and Wow – the view through the SkyWatcher shows the last beads, and prominences - one - tow - three! At the top in light pink a crescent shaped one, so far above like the Turkish flag with the moon crescent above the citadel of Ankara...

Bailey’s beads at second Contact

Bailey’s beads at second Contact

Taken with a EOS500N focally behind a Revue refractor (D=60mm, f=910mm), 1/500s exposed on Fuji REALA 100 negative film.

Chromosphere and Prominences at second Contact

Chromosphere and Prominences at second Contact

Taken with a Canon EOS500N focally behind a Revue refractor (D=60mm, f=910mm), 1/500s exposed on Fuji REALA 100 negative film.

Prominences after second Contact

Prominences after second Contact

Taken with a Canon EOS500N focally behind a Revue Refraktor (D=60mm, f=910mm), 1/500s exposed on Fuji REALA 100 negative film.

The light is extinct – the full corona stands on a gentle blue sky. It looks steady around the solar eclipse, but at the sky dark cirrus bands separate yellow and orange coloured areas.

The triple exposure set somehow does not allow to be set shorter. I deactivate it by reset of the exposure category and continue with single manual exposure times, up to 2 seconds. I look around, to the west and to the east the orange glow of the dusky colours, dark cirrus clouds, that distribute as bands between it and above. Above the flat hills to the west it does not look so spectacular. At the other side to the east the snow covered volcano sticks out in front of it, to the right of it again more sky bands at the horizon. Some of our group had seen there the Taurus-mountains glowing from the far, outside the zone of totality. They described the light glow of the far mountains as one of the most impressing observations during totality.

The view through the telescope is showing the corona picture filling. It descended mattly in blueish surrounding into the cirrus layers. Also with the naked eye it shows with less dynamic than observed 2001 in Zimbabwe. It reminds more on pictures, that could not reproduce the full dynamic of this scenery. Obviously the cirrus clouds take away the effect of deepness, but it showed as matt beauty amidst thinnest cirrus mist. I adjust focus and picture section, taking continuously pictures through the telescope.

Inner Corona

Inner Corona

Taken with a Canon EOS500N focally behind a Revue refractor (D=60mm, f=910mm), ca. 1/30s exposed on Fuji REALA 100 negative film.

Outer Korona

Outer Korona

Taken with a Canon EOS500N focally behind a Revue refractor (D=60mm, f=910mm), ca. 1s exposed on Fuji REALA 100 negative film.

Different exposure times reveal different zones of the corona. At short exposure time kurzer inner Corona and prominences become visible, longer exposure times show the intermediate and outer zones of the corona. The flat butterfly shape of the corona is typical for a time of low solar activity.

Film full! A Film change during totality, that should not happen, my enthusiasm had reflected just too often unnoticedly at the Camera release. The box for the new film does not open, strongly gripped and box torn open! I use the time of automatic rewind for free hand pictures through the digital camera and the one-way camera.

Totality at the Side of the Volcano

14:02 EEST – Totality at the Side of the Volcano

The Vulcano Hasan Dag, located east of the observation site still lies within the lunar shadow. Thin cirrus clouds are lighted from below by far areas, where the solar eclipse is only partial. Picture taken freehand automatically exposed with a Jenoptik JD5.0z3 digital camera.

I mount the camera again for a picture of the forthcoming third contact through the telescope and get too less the idea to switch to a wide angle and take tripod pictures of the surroundings. The corona is located too far to the right and below. I adjust the picture section by adjusting the tripod, focusing during this and again taking pictures.

Now it is becoming lighter at the right side of the moon’s limb. It’s over! Small and penetrative sharp the margin of the photosphere emerges: Third contact and Bailey’s beads, again a small crescent is there. I demount the camera and now adding the wide angle lens, I am turning around and am photographing the vanishing umbra left to the volcano. It is still recognisable clearly, but it quickly pales. I turn back to the sun and again push the release several times, but the small crescent already is so glistening, that a view through the viewfinder is no more possible. Then I change again to telescopic view at 1820mm, after I had mounted the filter again.

Diamond Ring at Third Contact

Diamond Ring at Third Contact

Taken with a Canon EOS500N focally behind a Revue refractor (D=60mm, f=910mm), ca. 1s exposed on Fuji REALA 100 negative film.

Diamond Ring at Third Contact

Diamond Ring at Third Contact

Taken with a Canon EOS500N focally behind a Revue refractor (D=60mm, f=910mm), ca. 1s exposed on Fuji REALA 100 negative film.

Different exposure times create different results at second and third contact. Using shorter exposure Bailey’s beads, chromosphere and prominences are revealed, at longer exposures the corona and dispersed light of sun beams caused by the light cirrus clouds become visible.

Vanishing Umbra

Vanishing Umbra

In the foreground already the light of the small solar crescent is shining onto the land, where at the same time mountains at the horizon left to the volcano are still eclipsed totally. Freehand automatically exposed with a Canon EOS500N and Canon 24-85mm wide angle zoom at 24mm.

I turned to the people around me and invited to crescent games. At the white cloth I film my own shadow including the sun crescents, that form at corners and edges. The binocular projection finds some interest. Through the lenses 2 bright crescents beam onto the white cloth.

Afterwards I go back to my telescope and a solar crescant projected through the SkyWatcher is creating a nice foreground in front of the coulisse of the volcano Hasan Dag.

Projection of the solar crescent

14:20 EEST - Projection of the solar crescent

The crescent is projected through a 30mm eypepiece onto a paper board at a 70/700 Skywatcher refractor. To the right the Canon EOS500N with 2x Canon Telekoncerter can be seen, that has been used for focal pictures through the Revue refractor. Taken with a Jenoptik JD5.0z3 digital camera.

During the remaining second partial phase I took a picture from time to time. There are different conversations I a relaxed atmosphere – first time that I hear of the glowing Taurus-mountains, that I have missed. They should have glowed fantastically out of the south easterly located not-eclipsed areas over the horizon. Brighter than any alpenglow.

I look to the horizon and can only see very faint and unimpressive small snow peaks of the mountains of ca. 100km distance in the haze.

I experience the forth contact still through the telescope and after the last pictures I begin to collect my equipment, until I left the field as the last one of the group at around 4 p.m. and joined the waiting group members at the bus. I thank them for their patience and we agreed, that we had found a wonderful place for the terrific spectacle, that the lunar shadow had given at the side of the volcano.

Just started the drive back, to the north of the next hill deeper located there was a small town. That must have been Incesu maybe 1 or 2 kilometers northewest of our observations site. We drove past Sultanhani back to Konya, towards the deeper standing sun.

A second highlight the journey found at the next day, as we drove from Konya again past Hasan Dag to Cappadocia and could admire the famous tuff stone landscape at a deep shining sun. Also this would have been a splendid coulisse fort he solar eclipse, but the totality at the side of the volcano was worth its experience. From Göreme a further view showed up over the cliffy landscape, another volcano in the far.


Almond Tree

Rock Towers


Tuff stone landscape and almond tree blooming in Cappadocia

At the evening we arrived for overnight in Ürgüp, but without a west view, so without the possibility to look for the lunar crescent one day after the solar eclipse. After visit of the cappadician cave churches and an invitation of our bus driver to his home, at the end of the tour we went back to Ankara, where we saw the old town on the citadel mountain and the next day the archeological museum. At noon we went back to Germany via plane.

Approaching Frankfurt we flew over the Spessart mountains through a heavy thunderstorm front. There was a strong flash discharge that I could observe over the left wing. Glistening bright and all over the wing smaller and greater flash structures, as if the shortly flipping up airbrakes on the upper side of the wing has triggered the discharge. At landing a waterfront climbed highly upon the airplane – unbelievable which energies are released there. Despite all that we have landed well and arrived safely at home.

Experience report part 1 and digital pictures added: 31.03.2006-02.04.2006.

First analogue pictures added: 04.04.2006.

Experience report part 2 added: 10.04.2006.

Further pictures added: 26.04.2006.

Translation into English: 06.09.2007, 07.09.2007, 10.09.2007.

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