Chasing the November 3, 2013 Total Solar Eclipse
in Central Africa Benguie 4, Gabon
The Sirius President was invited by the Office of Astronomical Development (OAD) (International Astronomical Union Bureau at Cape Town) to be part of the observing team as well as for public outreach. During his stay, two public lectures and a workshop for teachers were programmed.
The other OAD participants also participated with various activities. All this was part of a rich program of outreach activities at various places set up by NOMMO ASTRONOMIA of Libreville presided by Dr.Patrice Okouma, notably at the ENS (Ecole Normale Supérieure) at Essassa, and at the Berthe & Jean High School. Furthermore, a two-day meeting about setting up OAD linguistic centers, notably a French speaking one, took place at the headquarters of AGEOS (Agence Gabonaise d'Etudes et d'Observations Spatiales) which involved the African astronomy working group.
About the Eclipse
This eclipse is annular only for a few kilometers at its start with a duration of less than 1 second. It will then turns into a narrow total eclipse, with maximum duration around 1½ minutes and with a maximum path width of only 58 km. It is unusual as its starts annular and ends total, never reverting to annularity like the usual hybrid eclipses. It has also the unusual property of being total at the crossing of the Equator and the Greenwich Meridian 0° lat, 0° long. Starting off the coasts of North America in the Atlantic, south of Bermuda (Some 1000km East of Florida), it will end in western Somalia. It will cross the largest track of land over the RDC and will be seen as a partial eclipse over parts of the Americas, the Atlantic, southern Europe, and basically all of Africa. It starts at 10:04'34" UT and ends up at 15:28'21" UT.
(Pictures below were taken by J.M., C.Long, and J.C. Mauduit)
Our pre-eclipse assignment was mainly lectures and workshops at both the ENS at Essassa and public lectures at the Berthe et Jean High School. At left at the ENS, below at the Lycée.
With Abdoul Youssouph SECK, the former Berthe & Jean High School director with some students.
Learning the astronomy's basic skills.
A panoramic view of our residence place: the private High School Berthe et Jean
Roger Ferlet interacting with the students.
An interview with the Sirius President for the Gabonese TV for the evening news, the day before the eclipse.
The hybrid eclipse's animated path across the Atlantic and Central Africa. The moving dot forms the path of totality. The extended moving roughly circular area corresponds to the overall eclipse zone
Satellite picture of the eclipse shadow close to its maximum. Superimposed is the path of totality close to the African coast before hitting land in Gabon.
Path of the "African eclipse". More details from this document at the NASA-Espenak site and from IMCCE.
Trip to the zone of totality at Benguie 4, just below the equator
Distributing eclipse glasses to the locals on our way to the observation site.
A stop over with the Chinese team at Bifoun on our way to Benguie 4
With the Bifoun Chinese and British team
A crowd of amateur and professional astronomers from all over the World were already there.
Another way of watching safely the eclipse: CCD camera coupled to a PST and projecting on a computer screen.
Some of our group members in action
The arrival of the presidential helicopter. Actually President Bongo came by land from Lambaréné contrary to expectation...
The Gabonese President Ali Bongo
The Sirius logo was proudly displayed
Patrice and Samuel setting up one of our telescopes.
And here appear another King, claiming power on the spirits. The unexpected clearing up of the clouds just at the start of the eclipse was attributed by some malicious people within the camp to his great power.
The eclipse made "la une" to all the newspapers including the daily "L'Union". Here a special publication on the Gabon of the eclipse were to found in kiosks.
Packing up the material. The show is finished.
A picture with J.P.Luminet, the well known French astrophysicist. A right is Jean Christophe Mauduit from OAD - Cape Town
Back to Libreville-Workshop of the African working group
Our way back to Libreville was as usual an ordeal.
The two-day meeting to set up linguistic centers with the African astronomy working group. Listening to a speaker from abroad through Skype.
A joint meeting with the Chinese group
In the depth of the equatorial forest
In front of an okouma tree with a strange excrescence.
That's not the place to get lost...
A trip to the Atlantic ocean.
Even more media contact. Here the group at the studio of the African N°1 radio station
A busy intersection on the way to Libreville
Few Mosques here and there
The open market on the roadside and under the rain.
A great friendly people. Patrice Okouma our host and the president of NOMMO ASTRONOMIA at the right.