Total Lunar Eclipse 20111210


TLE 20111210

When "The key is to participate"

I will tell you briefly my experience of the total lunar eclipse of the 10th of December 2011 :

3 months ago I decided that I would go to Lapland (Finland). Why? Well, I went there in March to photograph aurorae boreales and I was delighted with !  So was the second goal of this trip: again see the "Northern Lights" ...Moreover it was the only place in Europe where the entire phenomenon was visible (as in the North of Norway, not to mention the Spitzbergen and Russia).

I knew that the weather at that time of the year was not very favorable but I had no choice: I had set my goals!

And I had never experienced the famous Polar Night . Yes: the sun is below the horizon 24/24 at such latitudes !  A rewarding experience for ...

So on  the 8th  of December : TGV Lille / Paris CDG, airplane Paris CDG / Helsinki,  airplane Helsinki / Ivalo, car rental and transfer to the hotel.

Whew! All that with a suitcase weighing 22.9 kg for the 23 kg allowed, a backpack and a Canon camera on the shoulder.

I had brought a Manfrotto tripod, a SkyPatrol mount, two Canon cameras (a 7D for the eclipse and a 5DMKII for auroras),  3 zoom lenses: a Sigma 80-400mm, a Sigma 12-24, a Canon 24-70, plus a GoPro camera HD2 and a Panasonic Lumix... and  all the batteries, chargers and cables  associated, some hex keys, the laptop...and some clothes.

Here I am left with my  "Chilkat" shoes on feet and my jacket "The North Face "on the back, because no way to put them in the suitcase ...All is well.

Arrived at Ivalo it was snowing ... and it will be snowing for 5 days but that I did not know yet !

The next day, the day before the eclipse, I consult on the internet sat24, aeroweather and so on. Result: it will snow!

Desperado on the morning of the eclipse, I get up very early and re-consult the weather forecasts up to 500km around. Not good!

So what? I decided to drive  the most northerly possible, where there will perhaps be a mere niche of almost clear sky:

Destination the North Cape, this mythical place!

At 7:30am I am on the road from Ivalo and "absorb" the 430km road completely snowy and icy within 6:30 hours. Fortunately all the vehicles there are fitted with  studded tires. Several times I almost gave up on the road: at night, snow, solitude, a landscape with no more trees, nothing but snow and stakes each side of the road leading the way in the glow of the lights of the car. Meeting another car all half hour ... and if I fell down? To be careful with gasoline! But in the vicinity of Lakselv in Norway ... I saw the Moon behind  a layer of cirrus clouds ! I still hope .... I drive to Honningsvag. But here I am concerned: the  North Cape road is often closed in winter ... Only the official bus can be accessed!

At the petrol station they say it will remain open until 8:30 p.m.! Whew! I would not have had the courage to take the bus with the bag of 23kg and a backpack  and have to walk with in the snow to find a suitable place to setup my instruments !

I drive the 30km within 45 minutes and I  arrive at the famous North Cape. What a landscape: the globe monument is illuminated, the sky is black, the ocean 300 meters under is black !  But the cafeteria is open. It will be closed at 3pm. I am alone except for a couple of native peoples.  "I did it!"

I order one quart of Asti Spumante "Champagne" and have a sandwich !

Good to work! A brief reconnaissance of the site and...I can't see the Moon in the clouds !

It is about 1430 GMT. I do not set the SkyPatrol mount taking into account the weather and the cold. Just the tripod, the Canon camera with the  400mm lens and the laptop (as long as the battery will last in this harsh environment) for the development and monitoring of the Moon on the SkyCharts freeware. Because I must find the... Moon! Time passes ...suddenly  I can guess it through clouds!

This is go! I shoot as much as I can in the euphoria with ISO sensitivities up to 6400 and 8 seconds of exposure. Too bad it will not be good, but

at least I will have the red-orange color of the total eclipse! This is indeed what I've had!

I am happy despite all the adversity. I pack up without waiting for the penumbral phase: it is useless because I can no longer distinguish the moon.

I drive down, alone, the road to Honningsvag from the North Cape at  6:30 p.m.

I go back to the hotel in Ivalo, tired but happy. I arrive there at about one o'clock in the morning. Ah the good bed, I started looking forward to it ...

Guess what lies ahead: it's Saturday night  and a band hosted the evening at the hotel ! People are dancing !

Can not sleep. I change and go down to the bar for an Irish coffee until eventually the fuss is over.  Finally, at 2 o'clock comes the rest.

The following days, I went three nights  to the "hunting" at the Northern Lights, but without success because of the weather.

My poor pictures of this trip are here-under...but what a great souvenir !

The key is to participate...

Here you have a video of The North Cape road: