I decided to observe the total solar eclipse of March 29, 2006 in Libyan desert together with my friend Peter Aniol from Germany. We joined the expedition led by Richard Fienberg, the editor in chief of Sky & Telescope magazine. The expedition travelled to Libya (Tobruq) from Italy (Genoa) aboard a ship, which was very important for us. We brought to the eclipse site a lot of heavy equipment, which made travelling by air practically impossible. Our eqipment consisted of 6 cameras Canon EOS 5D with lenses in range 200 mm - 1640 mm, two massive paralactic mounts, two computers, four classical film cameras Canon EOS, one massive tripod with Manfrotto 410 head and 10/1000 mm Rubinar (modified Maksutov-Cassegrain). All digital cameras were computer-controlled by means of a Linux program created by Jindřich Nový. The mechanical design of 855 mm lens (right image) was made by Martin Antoš.

Observing conditions in the desert were excellent - absolutely clear sky. Before the expedition, we were afraid of dust. Fortunately, shortly before our arrival there was rain in the desert and the sand was wet. During the sunset which we saw from the bus coming with us to the eclipse site, we saw several cirrus clouds. During the night, the sky was clear, which we used for precise paralactic mount setting. In the morning, there was a heavy fog and after its dissolving there were absolutely perfect observing conditions.

As I would like to monitor changes in solar corona, I prepared a project called the Shadow-tracking Expedition. Observers cooperating with us were positioned along the totality belt from Niger to Turkey. Miraculously, the weather was good at all observing places and the project was hundred-percent successful.

The expedition was supported by Canon (Germany) and AIS software (Czech Republic). My participation on the Libyan expedition was sponsored by Zdeněk Andrýsek.

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Miloslav Druckmüller
Institute of Mathematics, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering
Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic
Page last update: 5.10.2009