Solar Eclipse Adventure in Svalbard

Team Baader Planetarium in the Totality

Martin Rietze and Michael Risch from Baader Planetarium – both solar eclipse chasers – have again traveled to the event and brought us impressive images and videos

Svalbard is one of the few islands where the path of totality crossed land. Its 1300km from North Pole Our chances for good weather were somewhere around 50% so it was more or less gambling flying there to see the Total Solar Eclipse.

Baader Planetarium in the Media: Martin and Michael have been accompanied by a camera team of the german science show “Galileo”. See the video on (in german language). You can jump directly to minute 44:50

The Rest of Team Baader Planetarium also enjoyed the solar eclipse at bright sunshine.
See our image gallery.

First day: Arrival

The very small airport is out of the city of Longyearbyen, close to the frozen coast, in the middle of a snow and ice landscape. Temperatures during the day are -15°C and around -20°C during the night. We shared a campsite with people from Japan, Netherlands and USA. In the middle of the camp was a little heated cottage with a meeting room, kitchen, showers and toilets. On the wall was a time table, when which team has to do the Polar Bear watch. There are several thousands on Svalbard and one of them attacked a camp close by during our stay.

Second day: Preparations

After looking around on the day before the eclipse, we decided to see the eclipse in a valley called Advendalen were we had the chance to escape from last minute clouds. The landscape was phantastic. Because of the deep temperatures of -18°C at daytime (this is less than in the freezer of your refrigerator) – we always had the camera batteries in our clothes so that they keep warm and do not get destroyed. Only when we took photos we inserted them in the camera. So far all equipment was functional and also the new Baader Solar Filters survived a several hour long “deep freezing test”. They can now be called “arctic proof”! Furthermore, we had some more filters with us to help out expedition groups from Russia, UK, Netherlands and USA – they were overjoyed when preparing their gifted filters in the camp. Later in the evening we saw a beautiful sunset – and hope the sun will greet us again tomorrow in the morning.

Third day: Solar Eclipse!

It was the 5th total eclipse that we (Martin Rietze, Michael Risch) travelled together and it was by far the best. We did some mistakes with settings of cameras because our fingers were so frozen that we couldnt feel the buttons. The reaction of the cameras buttons, LCD screens a.s.o. were very much slowed down due to the cold.

The sky was very clear and the ground was white, perfect for an effect called “flying shadow bands”. Our movie shows this atmospheric effect very clear, much better than most other videos before that are available in Internet. (Note: we are working on a contrast enhanced web version of the video. The automatic Youtube-compression destroys the shadows. Keep tuned for the video).

The Corona was close to the horizon and due to the “full moon illusion” effect it looked very big. Furthermore the Corona had a slightly different colour, it was more yellow/orange instead of the white-blue that we know from other Eclipses, also an effect of the atmosphere when the sun is so low over the horizon.

We tried to share the event with you with our photos, but it is really impossible to show and explain the fascinating “live” experience. There is nothing like a Solar Eclipse in the Arctic!

Baader Planetarium in the Media: Martin and Michael have been accompanied by a camera team of the german science show “Galileo”. See the video on (in german language). You can jump directly to minute 44:50

All images – unless otherwise noted: © Michael Risch, Baader Planetarium GmbH

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  1. Congratulations to all ! Despite the hard work before the eclipse, you managed to made it through the solar eclipse, no matter the difficulties!

    The moment we received your first email we translated to Greek and upload it on our website, official blog and social media!
    On Friday, the day of the eclipse, we had organized an event at our premises with people coming in to watch the Greek solar eclipse of 40% coverage -live through Astrosolar filters and viewers – and
    on a screen in live streaming the total solar eclipse from Svalbard. Your photos were showed in a monitor through a slide show and gathered all of our interest.

    It was as if we were there as well! Although here we had +20ºC and not -20ºC!

    Thank you again for sharing this unique experience with us!

    All the best

  2. Congrats Guys!

    Unique adventure with real wide polar bears, real wide nature and above all a beautiful total eclipse with clear skys – to tell you the trouth I am a bit jelous… ok, not bit but big time : )

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience, these great pictures and let us to be a part of this exeptional event.

    p.s. We had only 57% eclipse here in Hungary, but the new “Artic Proof” Astro Solar filters worked very well! : )

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