On May 12th this year, a group of astronomy enthusiasts, accompanied by Explore's expert astronomer Andy Green, travelled on the 'USA Annular Eclipse' tour and were able to witness one of nature‚Äôs most amazing events, an Annular Solar Eclipse.
Andy gives us a fascinating account of the trip accompanied by some of the images he took on the actual tour:
"There are several types of eclipse but the annular is better known for its ‚ÄúRing of Fire‚ÄĚ effect. The Moon does not orbit the earth in a circular path rather in an elipse. The result of this is that the Moon is sometimes closer to the earth and sometimes farther away. When farther away, as in May this year the moon does not quite cover the whole Solar disc and leaves an amazing ring or annulus around the Sun.
This was the first annular solar eclipse to pass through the United States in 18 years and the group was able to witness it from one of the most spectacular places on the planet, inside the Navajo National Park, the incredible Monument Valley.
Explore‚Äôs group had been given very special permission by the Navajo people to use their camp ground in order to view the eclipse and this gave us a perfect vantage point from which to view the spectacular. It was even more special for us as, most of the Navajo would not witness the eclipse itself as they have respect for both the Sun and Moon but they were very gracious in allowing us onto their land away from the many other groups in the valley.
Arriving in enough time to get our equipment set up and get everyone ready, I was able to brief the groups and time even allowed us to fashion ‚Äúpin hole‚ÄĚ cameras for the groups (Another Explore trip had now joined us in the Valley to view the eclipse).
Witnessing the eclipse in Monument Valley was simply a stunning experience and all of the people in our groups commented on what a beautiful place it was to see such an amazing celestial event. Nature has a way of treating us to amazing things and being part of an Explore trip enables you to share those magical moments with others.
The Annular eclipse phase lasted just over 4 minutes but was beautiful in every detail. Almost everyone took pictures and the entire group managed to view the eclipse with special solar viewing glasses supplied by Explore.
After the eclipse had finished we were treated to another amazing adventure. We were taken by the Navajo people right into the heart of Monument Valley, to a place very sacred to them. Here, after a traditional Navajo meal we were told of the legends and stories handed down by their ancestors over the millennia. Dusk in the valley is an truly awe inspiring event too, a real cacophony of colour and hue and once dark the skies were ablaze with stars, a fitting end to a truly magical day. It really was an amazing experience and I would highly recommend it"