12th Jul. 2010 :: Total Solar Eclipse, Hao Atoll, South Pacific
This month I have been immensely privileged to see one of the most amazing things of my life; a total solar eclipse of the sun. This incredible sight was even more enjoyable because I was observing it from a beautiful and very isolated atoll called Hao located deep in the middle of the South Pacific east of Tahiti.
The eclipse crossed the vast width of the south pacific; totality started some miles east of New Zealand crossing the huge ocean to southern Patagonia in South America. Hao Atoll is a tiny outcrop with only 200 inhabitants, and an amazing setting to view the eclipse.
Hao actually has a large runway because it is a NASA Space Shuttle emergency abort landing location. If the Shuttle loses power and needs to perform a sub-orbital abort at such altitude that it can't cross the Pacific this is where it would have attempted to land. When you listen to NASA commentary of a launch, much of the communication is indicating to the pilot which abort program and which abort site to use, if an abort occurs at that stage of launch.
It is a pretty amazing site it has to be said. The eclipse itself was staggering beautiful, a real cosmic ballet, certainly an experience that I will never forget and one that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetimes.
There were many people on the trip that were highly experienced eclipse watchers, and many that visited eclipse sites year after year. It is an addictive pastime, and I can now certainly understand why.