Aruba 1998

Solar Eclipse

The Total Solar Eclipse of February 26, 1998

   My wife Cindy and I took a Caribbean cruise on the MS Fascination to see this eclipse in Aruba. The day of the eclipse was rather forbidding – at noon it was actually raining. By coincidence we were on the cruise with a co-worker of mine (Jodi Wilson) and his family. Jodi and his mother decided our location didn’t look promising and ordered a cab. After a bit of indecision the cab driver recommended that we head for the California Lighthouse, and this proved to be a good recommendation. The skies cleared about an hour before the eclipse and with the exception of one very puff of  cloud passing in front of the sun stayed clear for the duration.

   My setup was on Olympus OM-1 equipped with a motor drive, and an Orion 80mm f/5 short tube refractor sitting on a standard photo tripod.  I used Kodachrome 64 film. I digitized them using an Olympus ES-10 film scanner. I am very happy with the results – almost all of the photos came out well. About the only problem was the wind on Aruba; even though we hugged close to the lighthouse the wind blew enough to blur some of the photos. This was my second eclipse (I saw the 1979 eclipse in Manitoba). Overall this one seemed even more spectacular. The corona had a beautiful shape, and the sun was framed nicely by Jupiter and Mercury. Venus was farther away but also present. I spent most of my time looking at the sun and taking pictures, so I didn’t notice much else.   The diamond ring at third contact seemed quite prolonged, and very spectacular.

Here are the photos (click on any of them for a larger version):

This was the first diamond ring. It lasted only briefly. 
Note the planet in the upper left (Jupiter,  I think).  1/60

The inner corona, diamond ring just fading. 

1/30 sec.

Inner corona.  1/15 sec.

Middle corona.  1/8 sec.


Outer corona.  1/2 sec.

Outer corona.  1 sec.

Second diamond ring.  The prominences at 1:00 and 6:30 o’clock are more readily visible on the original.  1/60 sec.

Second diamond ring.  1/60 sec.


In closing I would like to make one final remark about eclipses.  Several people have asked me why go to all this trouble and expense to see a total eclipse.  Some have seen partial solar eclipses and not noticed anything special (I agree – partial eclipses are rather boring).  I can only say that you need to see one in person to understand – photos, no matter how nice, can not explain the overwhelming emotional impact of a total solar eclipse.  It is the most spectacular show nature has to offer, and I think everyone should make the attempt to see at least once in their lifetime.  Once you do I guarantee you will think it was well worth it – I know of no one who has seen one and not been greatly impressed.

© Copyright 1998, David A. Bradford. All Rights Reserved.