2006 March 29th
Turkey, Antalya

Presentd by Konstantin Yakovlev ( USA )
The eclipse figures and data are taken from :
NASA Eclipse Home Page
NASA Total Solar Eclipse of 2006 March 29 Home Page
NASA Eclipses During 2006 Home Page
Special acknowledgment to "Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC"
Special acknowledgment to Ekol Travel LTD, the tour operator who arranged my tour.
Personal acknowledgment to Filis, the lady who was our guide and who was doing her job excellently and very professionally, as well as to Fevzi, the guy with whom I communicated before the trip and who met me in the airport.

Hello !

     In the end of March 2006 I traveled to Turkey to observe the Total Solar Eclipse. I watched the Eclipse right from the beach; it was in the town of Belek, about 40km east from Antalya. I have chosen Turkey because its proximity to the point of Greatest Eclipse, its convenient location, its good infrastructure, as well as good weather forecast for its southern coast.
     The duration of totality in Belek reached 3 minutes and 32 seconds, and the observation conditions were beautiful : it was about noon and a few small clouds were not covering the Sun. My expectations were not disappointed.
     On Wednesday, March 29, a Total Eclipse was visible from within a narrow corridor, which traversed half the Earth. The path of the Moon's umbral shadow began in Brazil and extended across the Atlantic, northern Africa, and central Asia, where it ended at sunset in western Mongolia. A partial eclipse was seen within the much broader path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, which included the northern two thirds of Africa, Europe, and central Asia.
     The central eclipse track began in eastern Brazil, where the Moon's umbral shadow first touched down on Earth at 08:36 UT. Along the sunrise terminator, the duration was 1 minute 53 seconds from the center of the 129-kilometre wide path. Traveling over 9 km/s, the umbra quickly left Brazil and raced across the Atlantic Ocean (with no landfall) for the next half hour. After crossing the equator, the Moon's shadow entered the Gulf of Guinea and encountered the coast of Ghana at 09:08 UT. The Sun stood 44° above the eastern horizon during the 3 minute 24 second total phase. The path width had expanded to 184 kilometres while the shadow's ground speed had decreased to 0.958 km/s. Located about 50 kilometres south of the central line, the 1.7 million inhabitants of Ghana's capital city Accra witnessed a total eclipse lasting 2 minute 58 seconds (09:11 UT).
     Moving inland the umbra entered Africa at Togo's coast at 09:14 UT. The instant of greatest eclipse occured at 10:11:18 UT when the axis of the Moon's shadow passed closest to the center of Earth. Totality reached its maximum duration of 4 minutes 7 seconds, the Sun's altitude was 67°, the path width was 184 kilometres and the umbra's velocity was 0.697 km/s. Continuing on a northeastern course, the umbra crossed central Libya and reached the Mediterranean coast at 10:40 UT. Northwestern Egypt also lay within the umbral path where the central duration was 3 minutes 58 seconds.
     Passing directly between Crete and Cyprus, the track reached the southern coast of Turkey at 10:54 UT. The coastal city's inhabitants were positioned for a total eclipse lasting 3 minutes 11 seconds while observers on the central line received an additional half of minute of totality.
     At 11:10 UT, the shadow axis reached the Black Sea along the northern coast of Turkey. The central duration was 3 minutes 30 seconds, the Sun's altitude was 47°, the path width was 165 kilometres and the umbra's velocity was 0.996 km/s. Six minutes later, the umbra encountered the western shore of Georgia. Moving inland, the track crossed the Caucasus Mountains. As the shadow proceeded into Russia, it engulfed the northern end of the Caspian Sea and crossed into Kazakhstan. At 11:30 UT, the late afternoon Sun's altitude was 32°, the central line duration was 2 minutes 57 seconds and the umbral velocity was 1.508 km/s and increasing.
     In the remaining seventeen minutes, the shadow rapidly accelerated across central Asia while the duration dwindled. It traversed northern Kazakhstan and briefly re-entered Russia before lifting off Earth's surface at sunset along Mongolia's northern border at 11:48 UT.
     Over the course of 3 hours and 12 minutes, the Moon's umbra traveled along a path approximately 14,500 kilometres long. This was the 29th eclipse of Saros series 139. The series began with 7 partial eclipses, the first of which was on 1501 May 17. Quite remarkably, the first dozen central eclipses of Saros 139 were all hybrid with the duration of totality steadily increasing during each successive event. The first total eclipse occurred on 1843 Dec 21. The series continues to produce total eclipses which culminates with an extraordinarily long total eclipse of 2186 July 16. The 7 minute 29 second duration falls just 3 seconds short of the theoretical maximum. The last central eclipse of Saros 139 occurs on 2601 Mar 26 with a 36 second duration. The final nine eclipses are all partial events visible from the Southern Hemisphere. The series ends with the partial eclipse of 2763 Jul 03.
     More details can be found on NASA SunEarth page.

The observation point was located right on the beach, in the town of Belek, about 40km east from Antalya and about 30km west from the central line. The duration of totality in the point of observation was 3 min 32 sec.

Because of location not directly on the central line, about 10 seconds of totality were lost. However, convenience of the location right on the beach of the hotel was compensating this minor ( less than 5% of totality ) loss.
Trip Itinerary
Trip from Ataturk Airoport to Marmara Hotel

       My first impressions of Istanbul were our tourist bus struggling through the traffic from Ataturk International Airport to Marmara hotel, plenty of cars everywhere and absolutely irregular structure of the streets. The distance from the airport to the hotel was about 25km what was supposed to take 20-30 minutes, but it took us almost 2 hours. Almost all cars in Istanbul are European-made and small. The gas prices are very high : at least several times more than in the USA.
       What also drew my attention were plenty of public sport facilities, lots of kids and young people on the streets ( including many of them playing sporting games ), fragments of ancient constructions here and there, military areas, steep streets ( especially the ones going down to the sea ), as well as plenty of vessels in the Sea of Marmara.
       Regarding the overall safety and criminal situation, our guide told us that the country ( at least western part of the county and big cities ) is rather safe and there is no need to avoid walking on city streets or using public transportation, even in the evening time and being alone. The one just needs to carefully watch for the cars because in Turkey they never yield to pedestrians.
       Nevertheless, we were urgently advised NOT to follow "hospitable" people making suggestions to come with them for dinner or for a drink. As our guide told us, it would likely result in the situation when the tourist would be required to pay not only for himself but for other people ( of course, girls... ) who would "unexpectedly" join the company...
       Personally I didn't encounter any safety problems though I am sure that such cases happen, so the safety tips were useful. A couple of times I came across the strangers making me such offers ( to go to a restaurant with them, or just to show me around... ). Usually they attempted to start the conversation with asking what time is it, and some of them were pretty annoying. As I was advised, I didn't follow them and asked them to leave me alone. It worked.
       It looks it was the only safety problem I encountered in Turkey, not counting an attempt to give me less money in a currency exchange in 5* hotel ( it happened in Antalya ) as well as some very annoying street vendors.
       Regarding the travel agency itself, they accurately provided the service although may be they didn't pay for a couple of lunches which were supposed to be included.

Some of images are a little bit unfocused because they are taken from the moving bus.

Taksim Square and Marmara Hotel

       The place of our stay in Istanbul was 5* Marmara hotel located on Taksim Square in European part of the city on the northern side of Golden Horn Bay, in a dozen minutes of walking from Bosphorus. The conditions and service in the hotel were usual for 5* hotel.
       Our guide told us that the word "Taksim" originates from Ancient Turkish "water distribution". The square got its name because a water distribution station was located there in ancient times.
       Actually, Taksim is a large square, it is a huge roundabout, the intersection of plenty streets. The traffic on Taksim is always heavy : it is full of cars, trucks and buses even in late night or early morning hours. Taksim is conveniently located to metro and public buses, surrounded by plenty of restaurants, stores, shops, offices, Internet cafes, banks and ATMs. It is indeed both business and tourist center.

Sultan Ahmed ( "Blue" ) Mosque

       Sultan Ahmed Mosque ( also known as "Blue Mosque" for the appearance of its interior ) regarded as one of the greatest masterpieces of Islamic architecture. The mosque was deliberately sited to face Saint Sophia Cathedral, to demonstrate that Ottoman and Islamic architects and builders could rival anything their Christian predecessors had created. Still, the building failed to surpass Saint Sophia in terms of size. The two buildings thus comprise a unique historical and architectural precinct.

       The mosque became known in the West as the Blue Mosque because of the predominantly blue colouring of paintwork of the interior. However this blue paint was not part of the mosque's original decor so it is being removed. Today the interior of the mosque does not strike the visitor as being particularly blue.

       These columns located next to the Blue Mosque and next to each other were built in different periods by different cultures; they witnessed plenty of dramatic events and survived plenty of casualties.

Topkapi Palace

       After visiting Sultan Ahmed Mosque we proceeded to Topkapi Palace, residence of the Ottoman Sultans and administrative center of Ottoman Empire from 1465 to 1853. It consists of many smaller buildings built together and surrounded by four courts.

View of the Bosphorus

       There is only a short distance from Topkapi Palace to the shore of the Bosphorus, so we had a good chance to get there and enjoy the beautiful sight of the Bosphorus and Golden Horn Bay which are both perfectly visible from that place on the backgroung of Asian part of the city.

The place which we were told is Bazaar...

       After having a lunch we were told that we were going to see the Bazaar : the great shopping center, the biggest in Istanbul and one of the biggest in the World.
       Well, we were shown with rather long presentation of goods of a company producing Turkish carpets, then we were offered to make purchases of those carpets. Those carpers were really beautiful, the lecture about the history and technique of making them was educating, some of those carpets were real fine works of arts, but since the shopping was not a purpose of my trip I was sometimes feeling that I am wasting the time.
       Then we had a chance to explore a pedestrian street with plenty of gift shops in each building on both sides, while ( as I learned later ) the real Bazaar ( the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered markets in the world ) was not the place that we had seen though was located less than in 1km... Well, how could we know...

Antalya Airport

Ancient Town of Perge

       Perge, located 17km east of Antalya displays a real outdoor museum. Behind the breathtaking Hellenistic gate of the site lie a 250-meter street with columns ( Columned Street ), agora ( shopping center ), triumphal arch, monumental fountain, graveyard, basilica, bath, 12-thousand-people theater and the best preserved stadium in Anatolia.

Ancient Aspendos Amphitheatre

       The 2000-year old Aspendos Roman Amphitheatre is in remarkably good condition, retaining most of its original grey stone seats, an impressive entrance facade and its semi-circular shape. The amphitheatre retains its covered walkway on the top tier and is used for music events each summer. After falling into disuse after the collapse of the Roman empire, it was used as a caravanserai.

Letoonia Hotel

       5* Letoonia Golf Resort was the place of our stay and observation of the Eclipse. This tourist complex ( hotel and holiday village ) is located in Belek, 45 km distant from Antalya. The facilities are founded on 75-acres area among the pine trees and near the seaside.

       During the Eclipse the tiny spots of light shining through the small gaps ( for example, through the crossed fingers ) show up on the ground as crescent images of the vanishing Sun.

Saint Sophia Cathedral

       Saint Sophia Cathedral Being also known as the Hagia Sofya is a former Eastern Orthodox church converted to a mosque in 1453, converted into a museum in 1935. Its conquest by the Ottomans at the fall of Constantinople is considered one of the great tragedies of Christianity by the Orthodox faithful. Now it represents a unique mix of Christian and Islamic cultures.

Boat Trip of the Bosphorus

       Our trip of Strait of Bosphorus lasted about two hours and was really enjoyable ( though it was cold and very windy ). It started on the European side of the Bosphorus, then we proceeded North toward the Black Sea along the Asian side, then we turned and proceeded back to original point along the Europen side. All this time we were positioned between two parts of the World : Europe and Asia...

...believe or not...
     In the conclusion, I have to say that there is indeed something really weird in the eclipses. Although the observation itself had greatly succeeded, the chain of bad luck was accompanying everything what was connected to the Eclipse. Here is the facts.

  •      On my first day in Istanbul I was withdrawing the cash in ATM and three times mistyped the PIN code. As a result, American bank had blocked my credit card and all the rest of the trip I was having problems with the cash. Fortunately, that Turkish ATM didn't hold my credit card !
  •      With the beginning of totality my camera for unexplainable reasons switched to the low quality mode. That's why all my images of totality are 640x480pixels while maximum quality of images the camera takes is 2288x1712pixels. I have this camera for one year and half and it never did before and never did it after the Eclipse.
  •      The camcorder I used to make a movie of the totality lost the automatic focus with the beginning of totality and all my "eclipse" movie came out unfocused.
  •      On my way back my luggage was lost ( but fortunately found in two days ).
  •      When I was driving home from the airport I got a flat tire.
  •      When I was copying the movie from camcorder cassette to standard VCR cassette, my VCR got broken and tore the tape in the moment when the totality was being copied...
  • It is up to you how to explain, you decide...