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Chattargargh, India (NW Rajasthan Province)

Photo Atlas/Observations

I was optimistic about this eclipse, as the path would cut through the Thar Desert of India (which ranks as the 2nd best cloud-free location in the world, behind the Sahara Desert). I transported an incredible amount of equipment (2 cases of check-in baggage, and 3 carry-ons -- 200 lbs total), as I had an ambitious program. I arrived in New Delhi via Thai Airways, with no prior arrangements for lodging or transportation. At customs, I ran into Steve O'Meara of Sky&Telescope.

I hired myself a driver (the "Ambassador" sedan, made in England. Best chances for survival, in case of an accident), and began exploring for an optimal site. I headed for Sariska (Tiger Sanctuary), and spent a night. I decided to go further west, to the heart of the Thar Desert (in order to maximize my chances for clear skies). I stopped at Jaipur, to tour the Ancient Observatory. Incredibly, I again bumped into Steve O'Meara, who was leading his tour. I continued west to Bikaner, and then north to Chattargargh. I found a sand dune, where I setup. A nice family gave me some food (spiced lamb) & Chai (tea), which definitely helped my ailment. I had previously eaten some spicy food in New Delhi, which had given me a sore throat & flu.

I spent the night before eclipse day, sleeping on the sand. There were these black beetles which surfaced at night, and kept scratching at my cases. I simply ignored it, since I was so tired. The eclipse was definitely short: it felt like it was over shortly after it started. My site was only 20 miles from the India-Pakistan border. I may have been the 1st Westerner to see the eclipse in India (I did not see any eclipse-philes in this area). Again, I experienced the eclipse alone (no crowds, no problems).

At Delhi Int'l Airport, I ran into Steve Edberg's group & Jay Anderson. Fred Espenak had run into him @Jaipur, see Fred's 1995 eclipse report. The coincidental meetings half-way across the world, are truly remarkable..

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This is 3rd contact, an outer corona exposure. Note the reddening on the western limb, signifying the chromosphere. The long exposure recorded the deep blue of the sky during totality.

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This is my site on top of a sand dune, outside of Chattargargh, India (NW Rajasthan province, only 20 miles from the Pakistan border). My main instrument is the Astrophysics 5" f8 EDT (1020mm FL), on medium-format. The family who lives below came by. I donated some t-shirts & underwear, & paid them for hauling my equipment cases up the dune.

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This is the Ancient Observatory @Jaipur. The workmanship on the huge sundials was AMAZING.

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This is sunset from my sand-dune site, the evening before eclipse-day. Note the deep color gradation, signifying dust scattering (not surprising, since this is the Thar Desert)

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I was visited the evening before eclipse-day, by some sheep-herers. One of them produced an newly born lamb.