Total Solar Eclipse: 2006 March 29

Out into the Libyan Sahara Desert with

Site Location (WGS 84)
Longitude: 21 deg. 30 min. 14.3 sec. East
Latitude: 28 deg. 14 min. 16.0 sec. North

Predicted Contact times (mean limb, Occult v3.6)
1st Contact: 09:08:26
2nd Contact: 10:26:35
Mid-eclipse: 10:28:37
3rd Contact: 10:30:39
4th Contact: 11:50:00
Totality: 4 minutes 4 seconds

Diamond Ring at 3rd Contact
Celestron C90, Kodachrome 64

My apologies for the incompleteness of this page: I still have many images to process and upload!

Aram Kaprielian has kindly linked the TQ webpages to mine, so here is the reverse link:

It is not straightforward to visit to Libya, so we joined a tour organised by the American travel company TravelQuest in association with Sky and Telescope

The morning of eclipse day dawned clear and sunny and we headed out into the desert to find an observation site away from the camp with a good 360-degree horizon. As the Sun climbed higher into the Saharan sky, anticipation mounted and more people wandered out into the sand. During the morning a fairly moderate breeze blew across the desert; one or two dust devils took off from nearer the camp. Five minutes before totality someone close by spotted Venus in the darkening sky and the wind seemed less strong. A minute or so before totality and the shadow bands appeared flickering across the sand; then the shadow was upon us, the last speck of photosphere disappeared behind the Moon and the corona, chromosphere and prominences sprang into view. Through binoculars the view was stunning - the corona was typical of solar minimum with delicate 'brushes' emanating from the polar regions and longer plumes along the equator. Mercury could be seen between the Sun and Venus, and it seemed as though it was sunset arond the entire horizon. All too soon, the chromosphere appeared from behind the limb of the Moon, a magnificent diamond ring shone forth, rapidly became double, and the full intensity of the photosphere was back. Along the north-eastern horizon the darkness lingered for a while and Venus hung on a bit longer.

Just before sunset, a number of people made their way to the western side of the camp to watch the Sun disappear across the desert sand. As the last speck sank below the horizon there was just a hint of green - not a specatacular 'green flash', but just enough to round off a perfect day and earn a round of applause from the appreciative onlookers.

Once again, the thermochrons were deployed at the eclipse site. This time they were attached to the tent, about 200 metres away from the where we observed the eclipse. One was buried under a centimetre or two of sand, one was 30 centimetres above ground level and the third was a bit higher at about 1 metre above ground (closeup). The two devices measuring the air temperature were shielded from the Sun by card 'sunshades'. The graph is here, but in summary, the ground temperature dropped by 5 degrees Celsius with a lag of half-an-hour from the eclipse times. The air temperature at 30cms dropped by 14 degrees Celsius with a lag of about 6 minutes and the temperature at 1 metre dropped by 12.5 degrees Celsius with a lag of 3 minutes. Thanks to the thermal characteristics of the desert environment, these are the clearest results we have obtained.

The overnight low recorded by the devices was 10.5 degrees Celsius between 04:00hrs. and 04:30hrs. UTC (6.00 - 6.30am local time).

Nick Quinn & Linda Croft

Follow the link to pictures of Western Libya and Ghadames.

Linda's picture taken during totality

Beautiful colours around the horizon during totality.

Bob Silvey - mobile pinhole camera (click on image for closeup view of 'crescent suns').

From the Hotel Corinthia Bab Africa to ...

1st class accommodation in the desert!


Corona taken with Canon T70 attached to Tamron 500 f/8 mirror lens on Kodak Elite 200 colour negative film.

Back to Eclipse page


Copyright Nick Quinn, 2006