South Pacific cruises to catch April 8 solar eclipse

Astronomy magazine editors will be aboard two cruises through the path of the April 8 solar eclipse.
By | Published: March 24, 2005 | Last updated on May 18, 2023

For more information, contact:
Matt Quandt
Assistant editor
Astronomy magazine
(w) 262.796.8776 x419

March 25, 2005

Cruises to the south Pacific to see April 8 solar eclipse
Astronomy offers publication-quality graphics for this release below.

WAUKESHA, WI – The next solar eclipse is coming up, and so are Astronomy magazine’s second and third 2005 trips, co-hosted by Astronomical Tours. Because the total eclipse path will not intersect land, both eclipse tours are by sea – one cruise skirts the Galapagos Islands and the other originates at Tahiti. The solar eclipse is April 8. Each tour includes a number of days on each end of the eclipse date and lasts 15 days and 14 evenings.

To the Galapagos Islands…
On the morning of March 31, guests will arrive on Baltra Island in the Galapagos to board the M/V Galapagos Legend, the fastest stabilized boat in the islands. During the next few days, through April 3, the group will explore the Islands and see exotic species found nowhere else in the world. There will be hiking, climbing, and opportunities for snorkeling and sailing.

Starting out on April 4 and arriving the night of April 7, the boat will sail to the eclipse point – 685 miles (1100 km) directly west of the Galapagos. Special guests David Eicher, editor of Astronomy magazine, Fred Espenak, “Mr. Eclipse,” and Jay Pasachoff, professor of astronomy at Williams College and Sun specialist, will give lectures. Each night will allow for dark-sky observing, and because the Galapagos are almost directly centered on the Equator, guests will be able to observe both northern- and southern-sky objects.

This is a hybrid solar eclipse – see “fun facts” below for more information – and only allows for a narrow interception point for observers. Guests aboard the Galapagos Legend will have 34 seconds of totality, preceded and followed by a brilliant display of Baily’s Beads and ruby red solar prominences.

During the trip back to the Islands – beginning after the eclipse on April 8 and arriving April 12 – there will be various activities such as arts and crafts, movies, and of course, dark-sky observing. The last 2 days of the trip, April 12 and 13, will include more island exploration and a visit to the Darwin Station where guests can observe the infamous Galapagos turtles. After the 15-day and 14-night cruise, guests will depart the islands April 14 by way of the Baltra airport.

…or the Polynesian Islands
The tour begins on April 2 in Papeete, Tahiti, with a relaxing first day. Guests will board the Radisson Seven Seas cruise ship, the M/V Paul Gauguin, and enjoy luxurious amenities. Over the next few days, April 3-6, the tour will sail around Tahiti. There are plenty of activities on board, including Polynesian dance lessons and making local jewelry, in addition to scuba diving, snorkeling, and swimming.

Lectures and workshops on underwater photography training and learning how to build a safe solar filter will be presented by special guests Michael E. Bakich, associate editor of Astronomy magazine, and Michael D. Reynolds, meteorite expert. There also will be observing sessions during the evenings, where guests will be able to view southern-sky objects.

The following 2 days include a visit to isolated Pitcairn Island, whose 50 residents are direct descendents from the Bounty crew. On April 8, guests will witness a 34-second total solar eclipse, just north of Pitcairn Island. Here as well, solar prominences and Baily’s Beads will put on a spectacular show.

The Gauguin will spend the next 2 days, April 9 and 10, sailing to the Marquesas Islands. Once at the islands, guests can take part in a number of optional excursions to explore the land. French Polynesia’s pristine beauty was the inspiration for much of Paul Gauguin’s work.

On April 13, the ship once again is at sea for its next location – Fakarava. Here guests will have several miles of beaches and hundreds of aquatic species – dolphins, manta rays, and fish – to view.

On April 15, guests will journey back to Tahiti for a final day of scuba diving and snorkeling. This is one of the world’s best dive locations, with a diverse coral environment. April 16 marks the tour’s departure.

For more information on other Astronomy magazine trips and tours, please visit’s “Trips and tours” page.

Hybrid solar eclipse fast facts

  • Hybrids occur when a solar eclipse is an annular, or partial, eclipse at the beginning and end of its path, and a total eclipse in the center.
  • During the April 8, 2005 hybrid solar eclipse, the Moon’s apparent size is only 0.0067% larger than the Sun, so at the ends of the path, the Moon doesn’t fully cover the Sun.
  • Hybrid eclipses are rare – there are only about five per century.
  • In “shallow” solar eclipses, such as this one, the solar corona is more visible because the Moon covers less of the Sun’s disk.