Panama - Annular Solar Eclipse, 8 April 2005
Rain, sun, haze and clouds (in that order)

On eclipse day we had been staying in classic rain forest - it was a forest and it was raining, but the eclipse site was about 2 hours coach drive away and on the coast, so there was no immediate cause for concern.

The drive took us alongside the Panama Canal, over the Bridge of the Americas then down the coast road towards Gorgona, where we stopped to take on provisions (oh, alright then, to buy some water). During this time any rain had dispersed and we were travelling past blue skies on the coastal side and cloudy regions over the central area of Panama. After the comfort stop (also at the supermarket!) we continued the next couple of miles to our chosen eclipse viewing location on the site of a partly built golf course/leisure complex (Vista Mar) - the golf course is yet to be seeded.

Latitude: 8o 29' 34.1" N
Longitude: 79o 57' 12.8" W
Altitude (GPS): 180ft
(At least that is where our kit was set up).

This IS where we set our kit up
L-R: Dave Storey, Andrew White, Jens Haase, Nick Quinn, Linda Croft

The high humidity was messing up the camera equipment and we experienced a lot of trouble with bits of it, and the panic attempts to fix it generated further problems (a bit of a nightmare in some ways). However from the digital chaos we've salvaged some things. A lot of the partial phase took place in clear patches of sky.


Some of the partial phase (taken with Nikon 5700)

With less than a couple of minutes to annularity some of the current occupants on the site turned up to see what was going on - bringing their kids who, quite frankly, were getting a bit in the way and the parents were not sympathetic to what we were trying to do. Fortunately the video cameras were about set to roll, one un-filtered and the other with a solar filter (though due to the annoying presence of the impromptu visitors I had set one of them (filtered) to only half of the full zoom).

By the time annularity came close a thin haze was playing havoc with exposure times and the continual passing of reasonably thick banks of cloud was causing serious problems with visibility. The unfiltered video did give a bit of a flavour of the event. The amount of cloud present is pretty plain to see.


Unfiltered video frames captured during and around annularity - plenty of internal reflections due to intense sun


Going in


Coming out

During the eclipse we took temperature readings on a domestic "indoor/outdoor" thermometer "high" above ground (6ft) and at ground level - both in the shade. We also had some temperature loggers (thermochrons). There were no significant drops in temperature - the air temperature (high sensor) dropped only about 1.5 to 3 degrees C and the ground level detector dropped about 3 degrees C. The thermochron graph is reproduced here for completeness - sensors were located high (6ft, representing air temperature), low (for ground temperature), and one buried beneath about half inch of dirt.


Not sure about the sudden significant rise on the tree mounted sensors at 17:20 - the rise not noted on domestic instruments.
 (If you are really interested, see also the domestic graph)


Thermochrons (TC)
Domestic instr. (D)

 Soon after annularity the cloud set in over and around the sun for the rest of the eclipse, but still enough light for a group photo.

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© 2005 Val and Andrew White