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Eclipse 2024: And Then There Was a Hole in The Sky

Updated: May 2

I hadn't planned to see the April 8 eclipse until I learned that Uncruise was offering a trip to the centerline. I immediately signed up for the last remaining cabin. The itinerary was to start in La Paz, and then travel for a day and a half to a place in the ocean that is southwest of Mazatlan. The route was unusual for Uncruise, because they usually avoid the open ocean. The route required that we travel in "beam seas," a condition where waves hit the side of the ship, causing it to rock from side to side. This is the most challenging motion for passengers. Many of us took meclazine to prevent sea sickness. (Eclipse path image from the New York Times.)

The Safari Voyager hosts 64 guests and about 30 crew. It was built in 1982 specifically for travel in Central America. The ship has air conditioning, but no heat. You might not think this is a problem, but the air conditioning was so cold I had to wear a sweater or coat indoors. At night, guests either sleep with cold air blowing on them or no air at all (windows don't open) which gets hot and stuffy. Despite its shortcomings, it served us well. The Voyager is seaworthy. While not a fast ship, it is a sturdy one with a seasoned captain (Andrea).

There are very few outdoor areas on the vessel because the ship is designed for passengers to leave it as much as possible for activities—snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, or taking skiff tours. Some people waited on the bow of the ship and the rest chose the top deck next to the gear shed. An ideal ship would have a top sun deck with a 360 degree view, but with the eclipse happening so high in the sky, it turned out that no having a sun deck didn't matter that much.

Eclipse glasses allow people to view the sun before it is eclipsed fully. I used mine as a filter for my iPhone lens to ensure the camera didn't get damaged from the intensity of the sun. This is what the sun looked like before the moon arrived.

The excitement was building as we saw the moon start to cover the sun.

One way to safely view a partial eclipse is to project the sun through a pinhole, which I did. But projection works through many small holes, such as the back of a chair. That's what this photo is. If the sun wasn't in partial eclipse, all the light spots would be circular.

This is the last snap I took before the final moment. The last second is amazing because of the "diamond ring" effect. There is a thin ring of white with a blaze of light that looks like a brilliant diamond. I didn't want to ruin the moment by trying to photograph it.

Glen wore the shirt he purchased in 1991 when we traveled to the Los Cabos coast to view that eclipse. He is looking through 2x eclipse glasses, waiting for the full eclipse.

I took 5 seconds to photograph my fellow travelers as they looked up at the total eclipse. There was a 360 degree sunset. It was awesome to be on the ocean to see it. It truly looked as if there was a big black hole in the sky. I wondered if aliens would stream through from another dimension!

The iPhone did an okay job capturing the total eclipse. But the phone is programmed to optimize an image. To take a really good image, one needs a better camera and special techniques .

I took the image below with my SONY DSC-RX10MIV. I used fully manual settings, including manual focus. Otherwise it would be too dark for the camera to focus properly, and any automation of the settings would try to make the scene more gray. Further, being on a rocking ship, I had to use a fast enough speed to get a crisp image. I focused the camera in advance, dialed in the settings, and then let the camera sit until totality. My settings were: 600mm, 1/1000 sec @ f/4.0, ISO 1600, 0 EV

This was my fourth eclipse but the first time I photographed one. My goal was to spend less than 30 seconds taking photos and to enjoy the rest of totality experiencing the event with my own eyes. The length of the eclipse at our viewing spot was 4 minutes 17 seconds. It was spectacular!

Will I see another total eclipse? The next North American eclipse is in 2033. The next European eclipse is in 2026, through Western Spain, a bit of Iceland, and some of Greenland. We'll see!

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