After a night of researching weather maps, the captain and crew steered the National Geographic Endurance into a clear patch of sky for the highlight of the week. We woke up early at 4:00 am to see the total solar eclipse. At first, we had our hopes up because of the clear sky as dawn lightened. However, a cloud bank approached us, threatened our hoped-for view of the eclipse at sunrise. So, the ship turned around and started cruising away from the clouds. Then it happened: the sun rose at sunrise during the total solar eclipse!
At first, we saw a crescent-shaped sun rise since the sun was mostly blocked by the moon’s shadow. Everyone put on the eclipse glasses to safely view this rare phenomenon. After a few minutes, all that was left of the sun was the famous “diamond ring” shape. Finally, darkness fell on the ocean all around us as the shadow totally blocked the sun. For one glorious minute, we saw the sun’s corona flare out on all sides of the shadow. All the guests, crew, and staff stood on multiple decks in awe and took photos. Then, the whole sequence of events reversed as we saw the diamond ring and crescent-sun stages before the sun disappeared behind that pesky cloud.
Later on, we found out that no other ship down here had seen the eclipse due to heavy cloud cover or surface fog. The fact that only a few hundred humans on earth got to see this year’s only solar eclipse reminded us about the randomness of nature travel, which depends on perseverance mixed with luck.
Throughout the rest of this day at sea, we relaxed on the ship. There were several presentations in the lounge, including ones on birds, whales, and photography. Of course, there were three delicious meals, teatime, and evening recap. During the evening, the guests and staff had a great game of “How Well Do You Know Your Natural History Staff?” in the lounge. Throughout the day, we had a great sense of satisfaction with all the things we have seen and done during our amazing three-week trip.