Yesterday I got back from Turkey where I went to see the total solar eclipse of March 29, 2006. I saw the total eclipse of August 11, 1999 in Hungary even though the sky was cloudy at the time. Again it was an amazing experience. A couple of people in the group I was traveling with, went to see the eclipse of 1999 in Northern France. But at the moment supreme the eclipse was obscured by clouds. This time around there were some clouds as well. Fortunately not at the moment of totality at 14:02 (local time), so we got a clear view of the sun's corona.
We were positioned at a hill near the small town of Karaburna at the center line of the eclipse. It was very nice to mingle with the local people and to experience their reaction to the spectacle as well. Our trip was organized by the Dutch travel organization SNP. The Dutch science journalist and author Govert Schilling went with us to explain the phenomenon. He told us what things to pay attention to in the 3-4 minutes of totality and he helped us creating filters for cameras and binoculars to watch the sun while it was partially or not eclipsed.
Here is a picture that I managed to take with my Canon EOS 20D camera with a Canon EF 70-300mm 1:4.5-5.6 DO IS USM zoomlens. The picture was taken at 300mm, F/6.3, 1/320 sec, 1600 ISO.
As you can see the picture is a bit noisy. The corona was in fact bright enough to have taken the picture at a lower ISO setting (meaning less noise) and with a longer shutter speed. But I did not want to take any chances in advance. Maybe I will go and see the eclipse of 2009 in Shanghai and will have a better shot then 😉
If you want to have a feel of what experiencing this total solar eclipse was like, you can check out the recorded webcast from Side, Turkey by a crew from the Exploratorium in San Francisco.