Total Solar Eclipse: Live from Turkey
Why Side How We Do It About Eclipses Features Photos

Why Side, Turkey?Choosing the best place to view an eclipse requires research. We started with a map that shows the eclipse’s path of totality (a narrow path where the moon’s dark umbral shadow falls on the earth’s surface). Then, we analyzed sites along the path and asked ourselves questions: How long does totality last? What are the weather conditions, particularly the chances for clear skies? Is the site accessible by regular transportation? Is there good infrastructure (hotels, Internet access, consistent electricity)? Can the surrounding community support our efforts? Can telescopes and other equipment (in our case, two tons of it) be safely transported to the site?

We considered sending our team to Libya or Egypt. Totality in Libya would last for just over 4 minutes, which is a long time in eclipse terms. But the weather in Libya can be unsettled in March and, due to sandstorms, there can also be dust in the air. This leaves an overall probability of seeing the eclipse in Libya at 44–53 percent. We also thought about going to Sallum, Egypt, which had an overall 60 percent chance of seeing the eclipse and totality at just under 4 minutes. However, both of these locations had very little infrastructure, and travel arrangements would be difficult.


Osman Delikkulak, the Mayor of Side, Turkey (left) with the Exploratorium's Executive Associate Director Rob Semper during a planning trip to Side in October 2005.


 

 



In Side, Turkey, there was a 60 percent chance of sunshine and a 48 percent overall probability of seeing the eclipse. Totality would last for 3 minutes and 41 seconds. Side offered an excellent infrastructure and a mayor who was very supportive of our work, plus it’s located near an airport. It was the best place to send our team.

We weren't alone in Turkey. Thousands of people from around the world traveled there to get a good glimpse of the eclipse. Joining our group in Side were the Manchester Astronomical Society, the Malaysian Space Agency, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, as well as dozens of tour groups ,many led by professional astronomers.

For detailed information on weather, air quality, and totality maps, visit Fred Espenak’s Web site.

Want to go to Side? We recommend the Can Garden Hotel.

Where will the next eclipse be?

 
View photos from the field, and see how we managed to hook up all of that equipment in an ancient ampitheater.
Photos
 
© Exploratorium