How did 2021’s only Total Solar Eclipse appear from a cruise ship near Antarctica?
Part of Antarctica continent witnessed ‘the Eclipse’
ANTARCTICA – FROM THE LE COMMANDANT CHARCOT IN THE SOUTHERN OCEAN – This exploration cruise ship had around 200 guests onboard. Ponant, a ship owned by the French cruise line, was affected by the total solar eclipse, which resulted in a massive cloud. On Saturday, something swept across a portion of the icy Antarctic continent.
Captain Etienne Garcia, Master of the Le Commandant Charcot, changed the ship’s direction late Friday evening. It had previously been on a southeast trajectory, close to the east of the eclipse track’s center-line. Captain Garcia, however, chose to turn and travel northwest, bringing the ship closer to the eclipse centerline, based on satellite imagery.
The satellite photographs showed a mostly cloudy sky, but the search was on for any thin areas that could have allowed partial visibility.
Unfortunately, as the temperatures dropped overnight, the gloom thickened even more. After 3 a.m. (“Chilean Summer Time”), passengers and crew gathered at the stern of the ship to see only grey skies.
The 30,000-ton exploration vessel was around 57.72 degrees south and 44.02 degrees west when it came into contact with the moon’s thick umbral shadow. The South Orkney Islands were to the northeast of this location. Passengers began to notice a small reduction in light levels around 20 minutes before the second contact, the commencement of the eclipse’s total phase. As the moon’s shadow rushed toward us from the northeast at 3,100 mph in a final couple of minutes before totality, it began to darken.
Period of the Eclipse
As the darkness grew, several petrels, tube-nosed seabirds native to this part of the world, flew and swooped over the ship. They also saw two whales breaching the surface of the sea alongside our ship. It’s debatable whether they were all reacting to the darkening sky, but it’s a possibility.
The total eclipse lasted 97 seconds. There was no discernible shadow or dark cone. Rather, it was merely a hazy darkening of the sky, as if someone had turned down a rheostat or dimmer switch. There were no colors visible, and the end of totality appeared more pronounced because the light seemed to return faster than it had faded away.
It started to shower very lightly during totality, then it started to snow lightly a few minutes after the third contact. The air temperature was around 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), but the winds made it feel much colder.
At least one cruise ship was able to see the sun completely obscured. The sun’s corona was visible between clouds towards the beginning of today’s totality path, according to the National Geographic ship “Endurance.” There were also chartered planes that carried spectators 33,000 feet above the cloud cover for aerial views of the celestial display this morning