2005 - Polop, Spain.
Going to Spain, there was just one question on my mind - were we going to experience our first successful annular eclipse? We missed seeing the annular in Scotland in 2003 due to fog, and so we were anxious to experience success this time. So, we booked a holiday apartment (Tigín - Irish for "small house") and rental car, and headed to Spain.
We arrived in La Zenia, south of Torrevieja, fairly late at night - we got lost, and had to get directions. Our first day in Spain - the day before the eclipse - had totally clear skies, so we decided that a scouting trip up the coast probably wasn't necessary. However, that evening brought frantic Internet research about what the weather might do, and we learned that there was an area of low pressure in the Mediterranean Sea that was generating cloud.
Eclipse day dawned cloudy. So we bundled into the car and headed up the coast. We missed first contact (the start of the partial eclipse) - at the time, we were on the road trying to get ahead of a large bank of cloud. Shortly, however, we began to see the proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel" - a patch of blue sky ahead of us. We stopped at a petrol station, for some rest, and found ourselves in glorious partially-eclipsed sunlight. Since it was as good as any other place to be, we decided to set up shop, and observe from the carpark. This was going to be an eclipse of unusual observing sites!
However, it soon clouded over, and we saw that the clouds were moving in such a way that it was unlikely that they were going to clear before third contact. So, with less than half an hour to go, we bundled into the car again and headed in the direction of blue sky. We soon found ourselves in a delightful little town called Polop.
We scooted around Polop looking for a parking space, which we soon found on a very quiet side street called Carrer de L'era, beside a workshop of some description. There were very few people around, and essentially no traffic. So there we were, with an array of telescopes and cameras pointing at the sun, waiting for the main event.
The annular phase of the eclipse lasted just under 4 minutes. It was noticably darker, and quite a bit noticably cooler, during the eclipse. However, the clouds cooperated, and we had a good view of the event. Not long after 3rd contact (the end of the annular eclipse, when the partial eclipse re-starts), we noticed that shadows had an unusual appearance. This was the trigger for some of our funnier photographs. We bundled back into the car before 4th contact (the end of the partial eclipse), as we wanted to meet ecliptomaniacs Barry Cooke and Mary Gillick for lunch in Denia. However, just before 4th contact, we pulled in to the side of the road to see the end of another great eclipse.
Enjoy some of our pictures of the trip.
Highlights of this trip.
A personal view by Chris O'Byrne