Welcome Aboard!

Voyages to Darkness much more than a predictable solar phenomenon

[animated eclipse cruise image]
Ted Pedas, the pioneer of astronomy theme cruises, invites you to join him and his distinguished lecture staff as they sail into totality and beyond, aboard Royal Olympic's four Eclipse '99 Voyages to Darkness.

[Ted Signature]

[European Eclipse '99 Cruise brochure] Dear Fellow Adventurer,

The heavens are full of wonders - but one of the most awe-inspiring and unique is a total eclipse of the Sun.

On August 11, 1999 Royal Olympic's passengers will greet the millennium's final total solar eclipse from the decks of the Countess, the Stella Solaris, World Renaissance, and Stella Oceanis in the waters of the Black Sea.

The final total solar eclipse of this century crosses through Central Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia. Europeans have been waiting for this cosmic show for nearly four decades - not since 1961 has the shadow of the moon touched down on the European continent. In North America, the next total solar eclipse will not occur until August 21, 2017.

The eclipse bound ships are expected to be positioned to intersect the Moon's shadow in the Black Sea at approximately 43° North Latitude, 28° East Longitude, with the sun's altitude at 59°. Duration of totality will be 2 minutes and 21 seconds. Immediate access to updated weather information will allow time to maneuver the ships to a site that affords the clearest view.

To greet this magnificent celestial event, we have assembled panels of experts for each ship. Our Science At Sea shipboard lecture staff features a distinguished team of international authorities and scholars, noted journalists, astronomers, meteorologists and astrophotographers who will provide lectures, seminars, round table discussions, slide presentations and one-on-one discussions prior to the great event. Before and during the eclipse they will point out important features as we countdown to totality.

As the sun sets each evening, passengers can join our astronomers on deck to search for the elusive green flash.

Nature's version of fireworks, the Perseid Meteor Shower, takes place each August 11 - 13 and are expected to peak the night of Thursday, August 12 and the morning of Friday, August 13. Join us on deck to witness this celestial display of ‘shooting stars.’

The Olympic Countess has been selected by NASA's Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum as the site of live internet and television coverage. Voyage to Darkness passengers will be experiencing the eclipse live while millions of people around the world will be sharing it as an exciting virtual experience via their personal computers. NASA Select, the space agency's television channel, will also broadcast live from the decks of the Countess. The internet coverage of the eclipse will be archived on the Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum web page

We are pleased to welcome you aboard Eclipse '99 Voyages to Darkness, sharing with us the camaraderie of friends and adventurers with similar interests, the excitement of an exquisite cruise and the drama of witnessing the millennium's final solar eclipse from the unequalled vantage point of a ship at sea.


Ted Pedas

Eclipse '99 Fact Sheet

Path of the August 11, 1999 Eclipse

Eclipses have been regarded with special awe since humans first began observing them. We have progressed from primitive religious superstition to very scientific study of the Sun, but our modern knowledge hasn't removed the thrill of witnessing a total eclipse of the Sun - the most spectacular of celestial wonders.

The last eclipse of the millennium also promises one of the better shows. The total eclipse of August 11, 1999, passes through much of Europe and into Asia. Sophisticated weather forecasts and easy access to observing sites help balance the poorer weather prospects for this eclipse.

Although Europe and Asia are the prime observing sites, the Moon's shadow first contacts Earth in the western Atlantic, some 200 miles south of Nova Scotia. The shadow avoids land until it crosses the North Atlantic, however, making landfall in southwestern England. At Falmouth, which lies near the center line, the Sun will lie 46° above the horizon when it disappears for 2 minutes 3 seconds, starting at 10h11m UT.

After plunging the Cornwell coast into darkness, the shadow heads across the England Channel and into northern France. Paris lies just outside the path of totality, so Parisians will have to travel north several miles or be content with a 99 percent partial eclipse. The eclipse track then passes over southern Belgium and Luxembourg before heading into southern Germany, where both Stuttgart and Munich will see darkness at midday. At Munich, totality begins at 10h37m UT and continues for 2 minutes 7 seconds, as the Sun appears 56° above the south-southeastern horizon.

After cutting through central Austria, including Salzburg, the eclipse track heads through Hungary, northern Serbia, and Romania. Bucharest lies right on the center line and will experience 2 minutes 22 seconds of totality, starting at 11h06m UT.

Totality leaves Europe near the Romania-Bulgaria border as the Moon's shadow heads across the Black Sea and into Asia. The umbra then crosses central Turkey, northern Syria and Iraq, central Iran, southern Pakistan, and central India before leaving Earth at sunset in the Bay of Bengal.

If you plan on observing this eclipse from Europe, you'll want to keep up with the latest forecasts and stay mobile, so that you can pick out a spot likely to have clear skies and then be able to get there. Western England has about a 50 percent chance of good weather on eclipse day, which rates a little higher than most of western and central Europe. But the best weather prospects in Europe are along the Black Sea coasts of Romania and Bulgaria, where you can expect clear skies about 70 percent of the time.

As you head into Asia you run into even better weather, particularly over the dessert of Iraq and Iran - where you'll have 90 percent chance of nice weather on eclipse day. Of course, the potential hazards of visiting this region may outweigh your desire for guaranteed good weather, particularly when Europe offers good weather forecasts and easy access to possible observing sites. Once you get into Pakistan and India, the weather prospects dim once more, as the wet summer monsoons are in full swing. Expect only a 30 percent chance of nice weather during the late afternoon hours.


Eclipse '99 path over Europe

Why cruise to the path of totality? —Maneuverability and visibility

The maneuverability of a ship at sea increases the ability to secure clear skies on eclipse day. Constant monitoring of weather satellite data enables the ship to be positioned to a site of clear visibility. The Royal Olympic ships will have meteorologists on board assisting the captain in finding the best location. The Olympic Countess has been selected by NASA's Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum as the site of live internet and NASA Select television coverage. The Olympic Countess will serve as the lead Royal Olympic ship for the four Eclipse '99 ‘ Voyages to Darkness’. It will provide all meteorological information needed for the eclipse bound tiny fleet which includes, in addition to the Countess, the Stella Solaris, World Renaissance, and Stella Oceanis. The NASA participation will help obtain the most up-to-date information to position the Voyages to Darkness at the best location for viewing the eclipse.

The visibility at sea is 360° - from horizon to horizon there are no obstructions - no haze, dust, or pollution that can interfere with eclipse viewing, as it often does from land based viewing sites.

The camaraderie that forms on board among the passengers and the sharing of a special moment with a group of like-minded people adds to the treasured memories of an eclipse cruise.

Why take a VOYAGE TO DARKNESS eclipse cruise?

In 1972 The Pedas-Sigler family launched the concept of educational theme cruises when the Greek Line's Olympia successfully rendezvoused with eclipse totality off the coast of Nova Scotia. Since then the notion of shipboard educational pursuits have revamped the cruise line's ‘snooze, booze, cruise’. Today every eclipse is greeted by an expedition, either by land, sea, or air - sometimes by all three. Shipboard Eclipses-at-sea combine the best there is - exciting destinations for an equally exciting event.

Astronomer Ted Pedas, the pioneer of astronomy theme cruises, has organized Royal Olympic's four Eclipse '99 cruises . A panel of distinguished guest lecturers - experts from a variety of disciplines - will be on board each eclipse bound ship to share their knowledge and experience with passengers. Pedas takes pride in presenting the most comprehensive enrichment lecture programs afloat. The prolific science writer and eclipse cruise lecturer, Isaac Asimov, recalled his‘Voyage to Darkness’ experience by noting that “Ted Pedas was Education Director of the cruise and it was owing to his organizational ability and endless hard work that everything went as smoothly as a well-oiled machine. Five years later, I still meet people who recall the cruise and the success it was. Never did so many people have so steadily good a time without any of the activities usually associated with a cruise. They were being educated, and loving it”.

A Solar Eclipse - a Unique Cosmic Event

A total eclipse of the Sun is a special wonder. Even though solar eclipses take place two to five times a year, most of them follow inaccessible paths across the oceans or across remote areas such as Siberia, Antarctica, or the Sahara Desert.

It is estimated that any one person’s chance of witnessing a total eclipse of the Sun is one in 25,000, and the probability of a total eclipse occurring over the same geographical area is once every 360 years. You change the odds by traveling to the path of the eclipse.

What is a solar eclipse?

Literally, solar means "of the Sun" and eclipse means "to overshadow orleave out". A solar eclipse is the overshadowing of the Sun - when the Moon, Sun and Earth reach a point in their orbits that allows the Moon to block the Sun from our view.

 Eclipse Components

A total eclipse can be seen only within the narrow path of shadow that the Moon casts upon Earth. The path - the umbra - is never wider than 168 miles. Within the much wider penumbra viewers will see a partial eclipse.

An annular solar eclipse takes place when the Moon is at the point in its orbit that takes it the farthest from Earth and its apparent size isn’t enough to completely cover the face of the Sun. At totality, a thin ring - an "annulus" - of sunlightis left.

The fact that we can view complete solar eclipses is serendipitous - quite by chance. The Sun is approximately 400 times larger than the Moon and 400 times away from the Earth.The Sun and the Moon appear to our eyes as being approximately the same size - or have the same angular diameter of 0.5 °. Because of this the Moon is just the right size to cover the disk of the Sun and cause a solar eclipse.

If the Sun were a little larger or a little nearer to us, or if the Moon were smaller or a little further from us, we would never have a total eclipse of the Sun. On the other hand, if the Moon were twice as near to us as it is, we would have an eclipse of the Sun at every new Moon.

An eclipse of the Sun can take place only at new Moon. Most months the Moon’s orbit takes it too far north or south of the Sun for an eclipse to take place.

Special Eclipse viewing glasses

Each passenger will be given complimentary eclipse viewing glasses made of aluminized mylar. Remember, it is never safe to look directly at the Sun except during the totality phase of a total solar eclipse.

What can you expect to see during totality?

Components of Sun

  • Solar prominences, which are enormous eruptions of gas from the Sun;
  • The solar corona, the faint, glowing outer atmosphere of the Sun that gives it its halo effect during totality. Streamers caused by the solar magnetic field streak the corona;

    Eclipse Corona

  • The diamond ring - the first bright bursts of sunlight the instantly totality ends, caused by the Sun’s photosphere peeking through a valley at the edge of the Moon. This makes the eclipsed Sun resembles a ring with a dazzling diamond. This effect isn’t visible with every eclipse and depends on the orientation of the Moon. When it is visible it is one of the most spectacular sights of astronomy; and
  • Bailey’s Beads, a series of bright "beads" along the edge of the Moon, caused by valleys on its surface.

Total Solar Eclipses through the year 2003

1999Aug 11 Atlantic Ocean, Europe (England to Black Sea) SW and S. Asia
2001June 21 Atlantic Ocean, Africa, Madagascar
2002Dec 4 South Africa, Indian Ocean, Australia
2003Nov 23 Antarctica
Total Solar Eclipses visible from North America
2017Aug 21 Mid - United States
2024 April 8 Texas to Maine
2033 March 30 Alaska
2045 Aug 12 Mid - United States
2052 March 30 Florida

[Panel Discussion]

In 1972 Ted Pedas pioneered the concept of enrichment lecture programs aboard cruise ships. He continues to offer the most comprehensive shipboard programs afloat with themes drawn from astronomy, natural history and archeology. Experts from a variety of disciplines join Ted to share their knowledge and experience with you.

[Panel Discussion]

Ted Pedas Links

E-mail:   Ted Pedas — mpedas@ix.netcom.com