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 Total Solar Eclipse of 2016 March 9
 on Halmahera Timur in Indonesia

 Dinas Pariwisata Kabupaten Halmahera Timur

The point of greatest eclipse (totality phase during 4 min 9 sec) was located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean east of Indonesia where about 10 million people lived inside the totality path. To observe the 2016 March 8-9 total solar eclipse, I proposed tours only in eastern Indonesia, in the Northern Maluku, where the ground weather prospects were the best and the duration the longest. However the local infrastructure was fairly limited. The Woleai atoll, belonging to Micronesia, was offering the longest land-based duration very close to its maximum but its airstrip was out of order so the logistics would have been far too complex even though going there on a boat was a possibility. There were numerous viewing locations along the path, however paying close attention to the weather patterns and local terrain topography was mandatory unless you were on a cruise ship in the Pacific Ocean where the sky was usually clearer. Moreover the 2015-2016 El Niño episode did somewhat improve the weather prospects in Indonesia.
Thanks to the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy and the various local authorities (the Halmahera Timur regent and the Buli mayor) for their help. My thanks go also to the Kartika Buli Resort and its owner, as well as to all those who contributed to the success of this expedition. All my gratitude also to the ANTAM mining company for their hospitality and all the logistical assistance provided, including the use of their speedboats to transport scientific equipment and participants on Pulau Plun. Their professionalism enabled a successful expedition.

You can use this solar eclipse calculator to compute the local circumstances of the eclipse, and the solar eclipse timer notifies the beginning of the various events. A time exposure calculator is there to help you choose your camera settings.


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Halmahera, the sprawling and largest island of the North Maluku archipelago, had the longest totality duration in Indonesia with 3 minutes and 17 seconds and potentially the best weather prospects for any land-based location. Moreover the island could provide access to the centerline and both the northern and southern limits of the totality path for the most demanding observers. However travel times could be very long by our Western standards, the road network being underdevelopped and the topography of the terrain difficult. Very few hotels were also inside the path or at close proximity. Nevertheless Halmahara had a lot more to offer from scuba diving to bird watching.

To meet the requirements of the international scientific expedition (16 people: American, German, Czech, French), three viewing locations each distant by more than 30 kilometers (19 miles) have been established at close proximity to the centerline. Moreover some equipment, automatic photometers, have also been installed at the northern edge of the path (Gosowong gold mine), installation on the southern limit being finally abandoned. Photometers were also installed in Ternate, Makian, Buli, Maba and to the south. Another international scientific team (10 people: French, Angolan, Russian) stayed in Ternate. Nathalia, who was staying on Pulau Plun, maintained a blog covering some of the highlights of the scientific expedition.
The organization of this expedition and the coordination of all the partners and participants generated a lot of work, nevertheless it was well worth it although it was at the expense of my eclipse experience.
I also want to thank Wallacea Dive Cruise and their two dive boats that joined us on Pulau Plun on March 8 and 9. Do not hesitate to book a cruise with them, you’ll be in good hands.
Eclipse Viewing Location Buli Maba Pulau Plun East Halmahera Timur Indonesia
Eclipse viewing locations on Halmahera Timur

To transport over one ton of equipment, from the USA and Europe to the North Molucca, the logistics was quite complex. Moreover some essential accessories had to be bought in Ternate (multiple preparatory trips were necessary) on arrival before moving to Halmahera Timur.
Paris CDG Sorting Out Serious Mess Baggage
Sorting out a serious mess
with the baggage

Concorde Paris CDG
Unfortunately not this time!


Onboard Flight GA89 AMS-CGK
Onboard flight GA89 AMS-CGK


Meal Entrée Onboard Garuda Indonesia
Meal onboard: entrée


Meal Main Course Onboard Garuda Indonesia
Meal onboard: main course

Inflight Eclipse Map Geolocation Total Solar Eclipse 2016
Inflight eclipse map geolocation

Arrival Over Indonesia Pulau Siberut
Arrival over Indonesia

Tight Security CGK Jakarta
Our security is tight in Jakarta

No problem to clear customs with all the luggage, the ATA Carnet and credentials worked superbly. The rest of the equipment in 100-kilogram aluminum boxes had already been sent as cargo and will be picked up later in Ternate where it had already cleared customs.
Loading 600 kg Bag FM7 Resort Hotel
Loading 600 kg of bags


Meal Onboard Flight GA648 Ternate
Meal onboard flight GA648 to Ternate


Arrival Over Tidore Ternate
Arrival over Tidore and Ternate


Ternate Gamalama Volcano Fumarolic Gas
Ternate and Gamalama volcano
fumarolic gas

After buying in Ternate some supplies (100 meters of electric cables, plugs, electric dominos, car batteries, etc) plus two 80-kilogram AC units needed to cool the observation tents, we left Ternate in early afternoon on our way to Sofifi and Halmahera Timur later in the evening. The loading/unloading of the heavy and voluminous containers of equipment and the numerous luggage took time but was smoothly executed. Then in Sofifi all the equipment, over one ton, was loaded into the cargo bed of a truck that hit the road to Buli and Maba.
Ternate Kota Baru Sofifi East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Transfer of the equipment on speedboats in Kota Baru and Sofifi

Speedboat Sofifi Halmahera
Speedboat to Sofifi, Halmahera


Sofifi Harbor Speedboat
Sofifi harbor for speedboats


Heavy Voluminous Box Inside Cargo Bed Truck
Some heavy and voluminous boxes
inside the cargo bed of the truck

Truck Carrying Ton Equipment Kartika Buli Resort
Truck with over one ton of equipment
in front of the Kartika Buli Resort

East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Eclipse Welcome Banner Indonesia
With the usual typos ;-) which make this region charming

Upon our arrival in Buli a welcome reception was organized in our honor at our hotel’s restaurant. The next morning at 8am, first meeting with the mining company ANTAM to finalize the logistics for our equipment sea transfer to Pulau Plun, our main observation site. In order to facilitate the transfers a jetty was built on Pulau Plun. I then had a meeting with the Regent of Halmahera Timur, preceded by a meeting with the head of administration officer to frame some key points. The fact is one of our observation sites was on one of the terraces of the government buildings.
On March 5th and 6th we also did some eclipse outreach to students in two schools in Maba and one in Buli.
Welcome Reception Restaurant Kartika Buli Resort East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Welcome reception at the restaurant of the Kartika Buli Resort: we all look very tired and we are after more than two days traveling

Welcome Reception Restaurant Kartika Buli Resort
Welcome reception at the restaurant
of the Kartika Buli Resort

Headquarters Local Government Maba
Headquarters of the local government
in Maba

Entrance Local Government Maba
Entrance of the local government
in Maba

Official Meeting Rudi Erawan Regent Rudy Erawan Halmahera Timur
Official meeting with Rudy Erawan,
the regent of Halmahera Timur

Malut Post Article Eclipse Meeting Jubier Erawan Bupati East Halmahera Timur Indonesia
Daily Malut Post newspaper of Friday 2016 March 4: article on my meeting with Rudy Erawan, the Halmahera Timur regent
Eclipse Meeting Jubier Erawan Bupati East Halmahera Timur Indonesia

The next day we had another article about our observation site located on one of the terraces of the local government buildings.

Malut Post Article Eclipse Instrument Maba East Halmahera Timur Indonesia
Daily Malut Post newspaper of Saturday 2016 March 5: article on our instruments installed at the Maba viewing site
(and also in the Jawa Pos on March 7th; many articles that were written mentioned us)

Doing some outreach for the local population was part of the job as the eclipse date was approaching to make certain they would enjoy it safely. This is why we made presentations at two schools in Maba and one in Buli (multiple schools gathered to increase the number of students and minimize the time spent). The warm welcome of the local population is to be praised, everyone being happy to meet us.
Outreach Secondary School Maba
Outreach at a secondary school
in Maba

Outreach Elementary School Maba
Outreach at an elementary school
in Maba

Outreach Secondary School Buli
Outreach at a secondary school
in Buli

Practice Session Secondary School Buli
Practice session
at a secondary school in Buli

In partnership with the owner of Kartika Buli Resort we distributed to the local population 10,000 pairs of eclipse shades that I had customized with my friend Mark Margolis, owner of Rainbow Symphony.
Customized Eclipse Glasses Kartika Buli Resort East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Customized eclipse glasses for the Kartika Buli Resort

Customized Eclipse Glasses Kartika Buli Resort Kid East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Eclipse glasses worn by the local kids the morning of the eclipse

Between our various observations sites, each separated by about 30 kilometers (about 20 miles), daily transfers have been put in place for the participants but also the food and the biodiesel (called "solar" locally) for the main generator. Meals on Pulau Plun consisted of freshly caught fish. The journey time between Buli and Pulau Plun was an hour with the ANTAM speedboat, and about an hour also from Buli to Maba by road.
Because of the heat and humidity the tents containing our instruments were air-conditionned using window style AC units (so that the tents do not collapse) at our three main observation sites.
Late Afternoon Sea Transfer From Pulau Plun
Late afternoon sea transfer
from Pulau Plun


On the way to Pulau Plun (25 seconds)


Sea Transfer Night From Pulau Plun
Sea transfer at night
from Pulau Plun

Loading Truck Equipment Buli
Loading the truck with equipment
in Buli

Container Equipment ANTAM Jetty Buli
Some containers and equipment
on the ANTAM jetty in Buli

Men Work Buli
Men’s work in Buli ;-)


Men Work Pulau Plun
More men’s work at Pulau Plun ;-)


Peter Aniol Mount Telescope Installation Pulau Plun
Peter Aniol’s mounts and telescopes
starting to be installed on Pulau Plun

Peter Aniol Mount Telescope Adalbert Ding Pulau Plun
Mounts and telescopes of Peter Aniol
in discussion with Adalbert Ding

UH Institute Astronomy Observation Tent Outside Pulau Plun
UH Institute for Astronomy
observation tent on Pulau Plun

UH Institute Astronomy Observation Tent Inside Pulau Plun
Inside the UH Institute for Astronomy
observation tent on Pulau Plun

Leaving Buli Pulau Plun
Leaving Buli on the way to Pulau Plun

Pulau Plun Sight
Pulau Plun is in sight

Transparent Water Pulau Plun
Transparent waters around Pulau Plun

Fisherman Pulau Plun
Fisherman on Pulau Plun


Approaching the new jetty being built for us on Pulau Plun (58 seconds)

Bird Prey Pulau Plun
Bird of prey on Pulau Plun

Pulau Plun Jetty
New jetty on Pulau Plun

Livable Area Pulau Plun
Livable area on Pulau Plun

Leave Pulau Plun
Getting ready to leave Pulau Plun

Panorama Beach Pulau Plun Viewing Observation Site East Halmahera Timur Indonesia
Panorama from the beach of our viewing site on Pulau Plun, Halmahera Timur

Starry Sky Milky Way Pulau Plun East Halmahera Timur Indonesia Peter Aniol
Starry sky and Milky Way from Pulau Plun, Halmahera Timur, on 2016 March 5 (picture from Peter Aniol who was part of our expedition)

Two days before the weather forecast was still great, before the wind regime changed bringing in more humidity and clouds at the worst possible time, that is the morning of the solar eclipse.
Weather Forecast East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia

Prior to March 8th only the team of international scientists was staying on Pulau Plun, a week was required to install the observation equipment. On March 8th afternoon, about thirty additional participants were transferred to Pulau Plun to spend the night before the eclipse.
Boarding ANTAM Speedboat Filmed Drone Pulau Plun
Boarding the speedboat to Pulau Plun
filmed by a drone (upper left corner)

Boarding ANTAM Speedboat Pulau Plun
Boarding the speedboat to Pulau Plun


Eclipse Banner Pulau Plun
Eclipse banner on Pulau Plun


ANTAM Partner Logistics Pulau Plun
ANTAM partner for the logistics


Milky Way Pulau Plun East Halmahera Timur Indonesia Gísli Már Árnason
Milky Way from Pulau Plun, Halmahera Timur, the night March 8th (picture from Gísli Már Árnason who was part of our expedition)

As planned the morning of March 8th two dive boats, the Ambai and Ocean Rover, from Wallacea Dive Cruise joined us on Pulau Plun for the eclipse.
Ambai Ocean Rover East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Pulau Plun Wallacea Eclipse Indonesia
East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Pulau Plun Activity Scuba Diving Indonesia
Scuba diving with two dive boats (Ambai and Ocean Rover) from Wallacea Dive Cruise

And later in the evening of March 8th the yacht of a friend coming to view the eclipse.
Super Yacht East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Pulau Plun Eclipse Indonesia
In Pulau Wayag, Raja Ampat during the afternoon of March 8th before its arrival at Pulau Plun.
Super Yacht Pulau Wayag Raja Ampat Eclipse Indonesia

On March 10th the daily Malut Post newspaper reported that a polish tourist, Monika Szewczyk, who photographed a seaplane landing near Moti island just before the beginning of totality and taking off shortly after third contact wanted to know from where the plane was originating. Well, Monika, the answer is Pulau Plun (Halmahera Timur), as you can see on the left picture the seaplane was traveling with the yacht in Pulau Plun, the right side picture being the landing near Moti island.
Seaplane Pulau Plun Moti North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia

On March 9th at 4am the sky was perfect, the Milky Way was in full view. By 5:30am, clouds started to cover the sky once again. Unfortunately during totality the sky on Pulau Plun wasn’t completely clear as it had been for the past few mornings (a change in the wind regime brought more humidity from a system located to the southeast in Papua); there was a thin layer of clouds masking the outer corona. Even worse the sky got much clearer less than five minutes after! Sadly the March 9th morning was the cloudiest one over 10 days…
Totality Pulau Plun East Halmahera Timur Indonesia Tunç Tezel
Totality from Plun island (picture from Tunç Tezel who joined our expedition)

Although the sky conditions on Pulau Plun weren’t really great during totality as visible on Martin Dietzel’s time-lapse, a few very nice pictures have still been taken but the expected scientific results from this location will be sparse.
Totality Pulau Plun East Halmahera Timur Indonesia Peter Aniol
Totality from Plun island (pictures from Peter Aniol)


Time-lapse from Pulau Plun by Martin Dietzel (37 seconds - totality at the 17 seconds mark)

The sky above Pulau Plun being fairly covered at 6am, we evaluated our available options based on the latest satellite imagery. Among the options we had at our disposal, there were the use of the seaplane or the private jet to view it airborne. Nevertheless in the end two options were retained: the seaplane to fly near the island of Moti where the latest satellite imagery showed a large area of clear sky, or else use one of the yacht tenders to reach another major gap in the clouds that was coming a bit to slowly to our area, i.e. in the Buli Bay (Halmahera Sea). Moving the yacht to the east was another option. After reflection I decided to initiate a chase with this moving hole in the clouds, left my tracking mount and tripod on Pulau Plun, and we finally ended up on another small island, Pulau Mia, where the sky cleared up only a couple of minutes after totality! Unfortunately no way to get any extended solar corona, nevertheless the huge and magnificent prominence at 9 o'clock was clearly visible, and all my pictures had to be taken without any tripod or tracking mount and also without Solar Eclipse Maestro to control the digital camera.
Quick Summary Chase Hole Cloud Pulau Plun East Halmahera Timur Indonesia

Quick summary of the eclipse morning chase from the private yacht anchored next to Pulau Plun

Nautical Chart Pulau Mia Island East Halmahera Timur Indonesia
Nautical chart of the Buli Bay where one can see Pulau Plun (Plum) and Pulau Mia

Solar Eclipse Partial Pulau Mia East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Partial solar eclipse from the yacht at Pulau Plun and later from Pulau Mia in the Buli Bay

Although the thin layer of clouds didn’t help much for the Baily’s beads, you can see how well the actual pictures match the simulation. Unfortunately all the pictures have been taken freehand, i.e. without any tripod or tracking mount.
Solar Eclipse Second Contact C2 Baily Bead Pulau Mia East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Solar Eclipse Second Contact C2 Baily Bead Pulau Mia East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Solar Eclipse Second Contact C2 Baily Bead Pulau Mia East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Solar Eclipse Second Contact C2 Baily Bead Pulau Mia East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Solar Eclipse Second Contact C2 Baily Bead Pulau Mia East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Solar Eclipse Second Contact C2 Baily Bead Pulau Mia East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Solar Eclipse Second Contact C2 Baily Bead Pulau Mia East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Solar Eclipse Second Contact C2 Baily Bead Pulau Mia East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Solar Eclipse Post Second Contact C2 Pulau Mia East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Solar eclipse and actual Baily’s beads around second contact with their simulations from Pulau Mia in the Buli Bay

Again all the pictures have been taken freehand, i.e. without any tripod or tracking mount…
Solar Eclipse Totality Inner Corona Pulau Mia East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Solar Eclipse Totality Inner Corona Third Contact C3 Pulau Mia East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Solar Eclipse Totality Diagram Pulau Mia East Halmahera Timur North Molucca Maluku Utara Indonesia
Totality with the inner corona and third contact from Pulau Mia in the Buli Bay

Map Sea Ride Back Pulau Mia Island Yacht East Halmahera Timur Indonesia
Map of the eclipse viewing locations and the sea ride back from Pulau Mia to the yacht anchored at Pulau Plun

Of course a few minutes after totality the sky got perfectly clear, just like the satellite imagery could let us imagine one hour before… And the video, below, of Paulo Pinto clearly shows this pattern. C’est la vie!
Chilling Out Yacht Pulau Plun East Halmahera Timur Indonesia
Chilling out one hour after third contact and before lunch


Video around Pulau Plun by Paulo Pinto (longer video)

The viewing site in Maba was on a terrace located on top of the local government buildings.
Panorama Maba Terrace Government Building Bupati East Halmahera Timur Indonesia
Panorama from the terrace on the government building at our observation site in Maba, Halmahera Timur
(on the right you can see the air-conditionned tent)

Interior Government Building Maba Observation Tent
Government building in Maba
where the observation tent was

Air-conditionned Observation Tent Terrace Government Building Maba
Air-conditionned observation tent
on the terrace of the building in Maba

Tracking Mount Observation Tent Maba
One of the tracking mounts installed
inside the observation tent in Maba

Tracking Mount Observation Tent Maba
One of the tracking mounts installed
inside the observation tent in Maba

Tracking Mount Optical Equipment Test Benjamin Boe Garry Nitta Maba East Halmahera Timur Indonesia
Testing the tracking mount and optical equipment with Benjamin Boe and Garry Nitta

Tracking Mount Optical Equipment Observation Tent Benjamin Boe Guard Maba East Halmahera Timur Indonesia
Tracking mount and optical equipment installed inside the observation tent with Benjamin Boe and bodyguards ;-)

Starry Sky Milky Way Maba Beach East Halmahera Timur Indonesia Petr Horálek
Starry sky from the Maba beach, Halmahera Timur on 2016 March 4 (picture from Petr Horálek who was part of our expedition)

Unfortunately during totality the sky in Maba wasn’t clear, there was a thin layer of clouds masking the outer corona. The sky got much clearer about ten minutes after.
Solar Corona Totality Maba East Halmahera Timur Indonesia Petr Horálek
Solar corona during totality from Maba, Halmahera Timur (picture from Petr Horálek who was part of our expedition)

Sky Totality Local Government Terrace Maba East Halmahera Timur Indonesia
Sky during totality from the local government terrace in Maba

A couple more articles in the daily newspaper Malut Post of March 10th:
Malut Post Article Rudy Erawan Observing Eclipse Maba Bupati East Halmahera Timur Indonesia
Daily Malut Post newspaper of Thursday 2016 March 10: Rudy Erawan, the Halmahera Timur regent, viewing the eclipse from Maba

Malut Post March 10 Cover Page Eclipse Observation Indonesia


The various automated photometers pre-installed at numerous locations on the islands of Ternate, Makian and Halmahera (Gosowong mine and Kao near the northern limit, Buli, Plun island, south of Maba) were used to collect raw data that must now be processed, studied and interpreted carefully to make a measurement of the solar diameter.
Automated Photometer Makian North Molucca Maluku Utara IndonesiaExtract Data Photometer Pulau Plun East Halmahera Timur Indonesia
Extract of the data from the automated PHOCEA4 photometer located on Pulau Plun (Philippe Lamy and Jean-Yves Prado)

The eclipse is finished and it’s now time to pack up before going back to Ternate before completing our expedition in Indonesia.

Salmon-crested cockatoo near Subaim, Halmahera Timur (28 seconds)

Panorama Ternate Tidore East Halmahera Timur Indonesia
Panorama of Ternate and Tidore from Sofifi, Halmahera

Unloading Equipment Container Truck Sofifi
Unloading the equipment containers
from the truck in Sofifi

Equipment Speedboat Going Back Kota Baru Ternate
Equipment on speedboats going back
to Kota Baru, Ternate

Equipment Container Ready Ship Back Freight
Equipment containers
ready to be shipped back as freight

Last Evening Muara Hotel Ternate
Last evening at the Muara Hotel
in Ternate

GA649 Flight Tidore Left Ternate Right
Tidore on the left,
Ternate on the right

GA649 Flight Ternate Gamalama Volcano Lenticular Cloud Summit
Ternate and its Gamalama volcano,
with a lenticular cloud on the summit

GA649 Flight Ternate Tidore Mare Moti Makian
Ternate, Tidore, Mare, Moti and Makian


GA649 Flight Ternate Jakarta
GA649 Flight
Ternate-Jakarta (TTE-CGK)

After returning to Jakarta, the group participants separated and each of us went back to our usual place of residence already speaking about our next adventures…

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Last page update on March 20, 2016.
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