Solar Eclipse on the Molucca Islands

Team Baader Planetarium at the Totality

After last year´s amazing eclipse in arctic regions with -25 degrees Celsius a Team from Baader Planetarium (Martin Rietze, Michael Risch) experienced an extreme contrast at this year´s eclipse which took place in tropical regions on March 9th. 35 degrees Celsius and 80% humidity were predicted along the shadows path. We decided for the Molucca Islands between Sulawesi and New Guinea that belong to Indonesia. But beforehand we stopped over on Borneo to climb the 4.100m Mt. Kinabalu and experienced the phantastic nature.


The majestic Kinabalu rises high over the rainforest of Borneo. Climbers are crossing several climate zones on the way up and face a fascinating flora and fauna. Like the Rafflesia, which creates the biggest flower in the world with around 50cm diameter. or canivorous plants that live from insects, they are in the foggy forest at about 2.500m. Sunrise on 4.100m with a view over the clouds was unforgettable. A reliable companion on this trip was the   „Celestron New Elements Handwarmer Flashlight“. It spent the light for climbing through the night, kept the photographers fingers warm and charged the smartphones. A real multitool!


From Borneo it took several flights and stopovers to reach the Molucca Island Ternate with its central Volcano Gamalama. All people on this island had high expectations and were very curious about the eclipse and all the eclipse chasing tourists. Every evening they started a big festival on the central plaza to bring the people together, celebrate and inform about the rare event of the solar eclipse. Unfortunately we needed to leave this lovely place because we found out that the Volcano attracted the clouds. So we rented a boat and travelled to one of the smaller islands in the south, Mare Island. The major of this island gave us a little empty house, more or less a ruin, to stay overnight and to be safe from the daily rainshower.

The Solar Eclipse

On the day of the day we found out that our decision for a little island was absolutely right. We saw the clouds over Ternate, Halmahera and Tidore on the horizon but our sky was crystal clear – until 5min before Totality. All of a sudden thick clouds formed directly in front of the sun. No escape possible. But we were extremely lucky, right in time for Totality the clouds were gone (as you see on the timelapse) and we had clear skies for our photographic plans. While Martin took care for high res Corona photos with a 600mm telephoto lens, two timelapse cameras with fisheye lens and wideangle lens catched the unique atmosphere during an eclipse. Michaels Chronophoto wich is a composite of 31 single photos of the partial phases (taken with Baader AstroSolar® film) and a shot of the totality with a palm in the foreground completed the whole project with a very own style.

All images: © Michael Risch and Martin Rietze, Baader Planetarium GmbH

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