Report - Total Solar Eclipse 1983

Total Solar Eclipse

Tanjung Kokok (Nr. Surabaya) Java

(11th June 1983)


This eclipse trip was with the Explorers Travel Club (Maidenhead, England, UK), staying in the Java region for two weeks.


We left for Jakarta (Indonesia) on the 6th June (from Gatwick, UK), arriving after a 16 hour flight stopping at Zurich, Abu Dubai and Singapore.  During the flight, we saw a spectacular sunrise over India, where when the sun appeared to rise in front of clouds, a green flash was seen (see ‘Out Photos’).


We moved on to Surabaya (Java) on the 9th June and stayed in Majapahit Hotel, where there was quite a good exhibition of eight possible viewing sites.  Eventually the group chose Tanjung Kokok; Nr. Surabaya (Lat. 6 52'S, Long. 112 21'E), just right of the centre line, on the coast.


On the day of the eclipse (11th June), we left our hotel at 4am (local time) and took a two hours drive to the site in a convoy of civilian coaches and military vehicles.  One of my lasting memories is of this 40-50 mph drive, surrounded by military vehicles with flashing lights, every road intersection manned by police, with villagers coming out to watch us go past.


We arrived at the eclipse site at 6-30am (prior to 1st Contact) and stayed there until 4th Contact, which was unfortunately clouded out.  I had a tape recorder running to record my observations, as well as a digital thermometer.  Unfortunately the display in the LEDs started melting, and the tape recorder broke down, both due to the high temperature (40C), affecting the Duracell alkali batteries (in case of the tape recorder).  (In the hotel afterwards, both the LCDs and the batteries recovered.)  [Note, even though the batteries and LCDs work in normal conditions, high and low temperatures give problems; hence these items need to be checked out before travelling.]  Apart from these problems, photography of the eclipse took place without any problems.


I took about 300 photographs (see Eclipse Photos), using Kodak Ektachrome ASA200 film, 220 at 1000mmF16, using a Tamron 500mm mirror lens (+ x2 Lens Convertor) on an Olympus OM1N SLR, with its mirror up (to avoid vibration), and fitted with a 250 bulk magazine pack.  At 2nd and 3rd Contacts, I used my motor drive to take 5 frames per second, whilst during the totality period I took one frame per second at exposure times between 1sec and 1/1000 sec, using an automatic wind-on..  Also displayed are wide-angle views of the eclipse (55mm Olympus OM2N SLR).


After the eclipse, twenty of us went to a wildlife park (south-west Java) and then on to Krakatau, for a dawn climb (along with a party of Japanese climbers).  About ten of us reached the crater and another four (not myself) reached the top of the core, avoiding the sulphur fumes, the less than two-year old debris and the problem of melting shoes – one climber vanished in small eruption, as he was throwing in a burnt pair of shoes, but he was ok.  Though the upward climb took more than half an hour, the downward version took about 10 minutes, as we skied down the dust.  There is a cairn of stones on Krakatau, arranged thus –


                                                          *   1883    *



I think one of my lasting impressions of the whole trip was how the accommodation changed from a 1st class hotel (upon arrival) down to living with the local villagers (on the Game Reserve), sharing their life and two days later back in my 1st class hotel, with colour TV, baths, showers – a concept of a way of life that the villagers would not know.


John C, Fairweather

(Woking UK)

11th June 1983