The Great Asian Eclipse July 22nd, 2009

At the right is the last photo I could get through the clouds (this image was through pretty thick cloud cover, not a hole in the clouds) and another photo of some of our group during the darkness of totality in the North of Amami Oshima.

Most of us thought Okinawa would get darker skies during a 95% partial eclipse, but we forgot to figure in three things. It was the dead of summer, we are at a low latitude and maximum coverage was very close to noon. So the Sun was high in the sky providing very direct rays with little atmospheric scatter.

Mike S.

Member Report 1 - Location: Chatan - Max eclipse: 95%

My Eclipse Report begins 2 months ago when I tried to get airline tickets to Amami Oshima so I could see a 100% view of the eclipse. But after being on a waiting list for 2 months and then failing to get either airline tickets or ferry tickets, I decided to enjoy the 95% partial eclipse from the balcony of my 8th floor apartment in Chatan.

It turned out to be a lot of fun because I was able to share the experience with my nephew.

The weather was slightly cloudy, but not too bad. There were bands of thick clouds, but frequent patches of clear sky.

I was prepared with my pinhole viewer, solar filter viewer, my Skyscout to locate stars in the daylight sky, my laptop computer (to watch the eclipse live on the internet), and was even within a view steps of my TV where NHK would show the eclipse.

My wife's job was to make the pinhole viewer. I told her that the image would be about 1/100th the length of the cardboard box, so she created this monster viewer that was 10 feet long! And it worked great (once we were able to get it out the door!) All through the eclipse we had a perfect image of the eclipse with the pinhole viewer. It worked so well, I hate to junk it. Maybe I can sell it on eBay :)

The solar filter glasses also worked good, and although there were clouds, the eclipse was easily visible through the light clouds with the solar filter.

Prior to the eclipse, I tracked the moon with my Skyscout, which I thought was cool (since I normally can't use it during the day. I actually had to put cardboard across the front when the moon came close to the sun. I also verifed the location in the daytime sky of Venus and the stars of Orion; although it never got dark enough for me to see them (also due to the clouds).

The laptop proved useless.... all web sites showing the eclipse were too congested. I couldn't even get into the NASA site, and I have high speed internet. The TV however was good. It was nice to see how other parts of the world were viewing the eclipse; unfortunately it rained in China and was cloudy in much of the Ryukyu islands.

My biggest surprise was that it didn't get darker. I thought with 95% cover, the sky would be dark. Even without the clouds, I don't think I could have seen any stars (maybe Venus).

Overall, it was a memorable experience and a chance to share my hobby of astronomy with my nephew.

~Mike B~
Member Report 2 - Location: Nanjo - Max eclipse: 92%

The "century eclipse" has been awaited with much anticipation. The last total eclpse observable in Japan occurred 46 years ago. For most, however, the great spectacle happend behind clouds. The southern half of mainland Japan was still in the rainy season.

Many travelled to the path of the total eclipse, such as Amami Island or the Tokara archipelago. Unfortunately, thick clouds and rain forced the eclipse chasers to evacuate into the community halls, where all they whitnessed was a dark day during the total eclipse.

We were a bit better off on Okinawa's main island, but slowly moving high layer clouds covered the eclipse persistantly. Here in the south of the island, the eclipse was 92% partial.

Fig. 1

I observed the event with a 50mm Galileoscope, a zoom eyepiece and a self-made sun filter (Fig 1) using Baader solar filter foil. The so equipped scope penetrated the clouds far better than my camera. The only exposure I can offer looks like a mythical ghost eclipse (Fig 2).

Fig. 2

It was equally fun to watch the eclipse with a pair of eclipse glasses, courtesy NPO Yaeyama Astronomical Society.

Inspite of the cloudy event it was really amazing when it noticably darkened in the morning, while the temperature dropped to a comfortable level during the maximum observable 92% eclipse in Nanjo, in the south of Okinawa's main island.

Robert B.