December 4, 2002  Solar Eclipse Expedition Report

On Sunday Morning, December 1 we departed Hazyview in the South of the Kruger National Park and enjoyed a spectacular drive through mountains into North-East South Africa. We arrived in Messina late that afternoon. Temperatures rose along the way. 18 degrees C when we departed Hazyview and 38 degrees C in Messina! Monday, Dec. 2 dawned cloudless and very hot. Seemed as hot as Mauritania in '73. We were hosted in a private residence in Messina and setup our instruments in the backyard. Private and secure with a 7' masonry fence surrounding the yard. Alignment went smoothly and Monday afternoon we drove 12km to the Zimbabwe border and looked across the bone dry Limpopo river. Apparently this region, including Zambia is experiencing a severe drought.

Tuesday morning dawned clear again, but one could see distant clouds on the Southern horizon most of the day. Eclipse morning, I arose at 3am local time (GMT +2:00) and observed dark southern skies. In this town with a few streetlights I could see + 5mag. Magellanic Clouds are always a special treat to observe. By 4am I could perceive that clouds were obstructing large areas of the sky, and by sunrise the sky was 50% scattered. Things kept getting worse and by first contact (7:12am) things looked bad., ~80% scattered. The sky looked bleak until ~8am when a few openings appeared.

I was able to track and set drive rates through the holes that passed our way. The final 15 minutes before second contact things began improving and totality was observed through a hole that passed our way just at the right moment. There were 2 levels of clouds. High cirrus drifting to the North and low running scud coming from the ENE. Totality was predicted to last 68s in Messina. I ran a sequence of 5 exposures with the Newkirk camera. 2, 5, 40, 10 and 1seconds. Only towards the end of the 40s exposure did I observe some very tenuous low clouds moving into the field of view and they were so wispy that I decided to continue the exposure rather than cut it short.

Messina-700 UT      
Messina-700 UT.jpg
© EUMETSAT, 2002
45 minutes before totality
4 minutes following totality
South African Road Warning

All images shown on our web server are subject to copyright. If you wish to re-use these images, copyright credit should be shown by displaying the words "©2002 - Wendy Carlos & Jonathan Kern - all rights reserved" on each of the images shown. Updated 12/15/2002


Newkirk Camera Images
Obtained December 4, 2002  in Messina, South Africa by Jan and Jonathan Kern
Colorimetric calibration and digital image processing by WENDY CARLOS

Direct  image made with Newkirk camera

2002  Solar Eclipse Composite by Wendy Carlos

 The above images are a collaborative effort of Wendy Carlos and myself.  See her Eclipse page for a description of her work.

The NEWKIRK camera which Jonathan Kern designed and built to obtain these images uses a 4" quartz/fluorite doublet of 60.25" f.l. fed by an 8" quartz coelostat. Below are unprocessed exposures obtained through the radially symmetric, neutral density filter located in the focal plane which compensates for the steep decline in coronal radiance with increasing distance. (the NEWKIRK filter, after Gordon Newkirk, former director of the High Altitude Observatory). It is fabricated by evaporating a metal film onto glass in a high vacuum. The basic requirement of such a filter is that it compensate as accurately as possible for the radial decrease in brightness as one goes away from the limb of the sun in the film plane of the telescope. Thus, the transmission should vary as the reciprocal of the function describing the K+F+sky brightness. This calls for an optical density of 10 -3 at the limb (10 f/stops, or a factor of 1000) decreasing very rapidly to a density of near unity at 4 solar radii. (See curve) The solar image at focus was .570" in diameter. The plate scale is .0175"/ minute of arc, yielding  a photographic field of 2.12 by 2.68 degrees on 120 format roll-film (image size 2.23" x 2.81") . The central spot you see in each image is the calibration window, which remains centered on the sun. Because there is perceptible motion of the moon with respect to the sun, the NEWKIRK filter may appear decentered. It is not.  North is up.

Click on each image for a full screen view

001_Newkirk-2s.jpg 002_Newkirk-5s.jpg 003_Newkirk-40s.jpg 004_Newkirk-10s.jpg 005_Newkirk-2s.jpg

Newkirk camera in Messina

Density function of NEWKIRK filter  

 \/ \/ \/ \/ \/ \/ \/ \/ \/                        See more below                    \/ \/ \/ \/ \/ \/ \/ \/ \/

Digital Images obtained December 4, 2002  in Messina, South Africa by Jan and Jonathan Kern

Frames DSC_2736 through DSC_2776 were exposed in Messina, South Africa on Wednesday, Dec 4 2002.  They do not benefit from a Newkirk filter. The imaging system was a TeleVue 70mm 520mm f/7.4 refractor and a Nikon D-100 digital SLR.  Exposure times are listed below each frame.  A Celestron NexStar mount was adapted to track the sun alt-azimuthally during the eclipse. Altitude tracking was fairly good.  Azimuth obviously moved and the solar image is not well centered in the frame.  This was because of backlash in the gear train, which is not preloaded. It was not possible to manipulate the camera's shutter speed control without disturbing the alignment.   North is ‘up’ (approximately). 

DSC_2736 DSC_2737 DSC_2738 DSC_2739 DSC_2740
1/2000 sec
1/750 sec
1/250 sec
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DSC_2741 DSC_2742 DSC_2743 DSC_2744 DSC_2745
1/10 sec
1/4 sec
1 sec
2 sec
1 sec
DSC_2746 DSC_2747 DSC_2748 DSC_2749 DSC_2750
1/4 sec
1/10 sec
1/30 sec
1/90 sec
1/250 sec
DSC_2751 DSC_2752
1/750 sec
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DSCN1839.jpg DSCN1840.jpg FOV