Total solar eclipse in Mongolia - august 1rst 2008

The tour

The observation of this eclipse is part of a 10 days tour in Mongolia that I organized for a group of 11 persons with help of  Black Ibex Expeditions mongolian travel agency. After our arrival in Ulaan Baatar on july 26th, the tour program begins with a 4 days driving in 4x4 vehicles (Ulaan Baatar, Arvayheer, Bayanhongor, Altay).

On board of three 4x4 minibus (russian UAZ), we successively cross the green steppe ...

Crossing the steppe with 4x4 minibus


the dusty desert ...

Crossing the desert with 4x4 minibus


and Altay mountains.

Crossing the Altaï mountains with 4x4 minibus

After a trip of 1400 Km, we finally join our ger camp july 31rst, the day before the eclipse.

The observation camp

Our camp (green dot on the map) at an altitude of 1300 meters (45° 47' 43"N, 92° 15' 58"E) is located in Hovd province, on the riverside of Bodonch river. We are less than 5 kilometers from the central line of the eclipse.


This ger camp composed of 26 yurts built by Black Ibex, receives many groups of different countries (England,  Belgium,  France, Japan, South Africa).

The ger camp


On this late afternoon of july 31rst, the weather is very stormy and western horizon above which the eclipse will occur, is totally masked.

A thunderstorm, the day before the eclipse


Finally, on D day, the sky over the camp becomes clear. All around the camp, clouds have decided to stay apart.

 The sky just before the eclipse


So we decide to stay in the camp near our yurts to observe the eclipse (picture by Pierre Ouvrier).

Waiting for the eclipse


Photographic equipment

My equipment is composed of a CANON EOS300D digital camera with Sigma 150-400 mm zoom lens and Astrosolar  filter of density 5 for partial phases. Zoom focal lens is set at 400mm.

All this equipment is fixed on a motorized EQ1 mount. For reason of weight limitation, the counterweight of the equatorial mount is composed of a plastic bottle filled with mongolian sand.

Power is supplied by a 12V 4AH lead acid battery. The periodicity of the capture is managed with a Pocket Shutter sequencer.

Photographic equipment


First contact

33° over the horizon, first contact occurs at à 10H04 UT (17H04  Hovd province local time).

 First contact


Moon at half way

Projection through a binocular eyepiece.

Moon at half way


Arrival of the moon shadow

A the time of the first diamond.

Arrival of the moon shadow


Second contact

22° over the  horizon, second contact occurs at 11H03 UT (18H03 local time).

 Second contact

Movie of first totality moments (1024 x768 AVI XVID compression)

This movie is composed of six frames captured 5 seconds apart.



Planets appear now in the sky. From the left to the right Venus and Mercury.



Third contact

Two minutes and two seconds later, third contact occurs.

Third contact

Movie of last eclipse moments until the second diamond (1024 x768 AVI XVID compression 370 k)

This movie is composed of six frames captured 5 seconds apart.


Exit of the moon shadow

Last crepuscular moments ...

Exit of the moon shadow


Celebration of the event

We don't wait for the last contact  to celebrate this succesful event.
First we open (thanks to Sophie!)  a bottle of champaign which has survived after a trip of more than 8000Km !

Champaign !


Then according to mongolian custom, we share the traditional bowl of milk.

Sharing a bowl of milk


And finally a very emotionnal song is interpreted by our mongolian friends (picture by Pierre Ouvrier).

A mongolian songl !


Last contact

13° over the horizon, last contact occurs at 12H00UT (19H00  local time).

 Last contact


In conclusion (picture by Philippe Lopez)

The group, the drivers and our guide

Many thanks :

- to all tour participants
- to Black Ibex Expeditions who prepared for us a tour program rich with emotions
- to our 3 minibus drivers, Chuka, Maamga and Khasha, champions on bumpy trails
- to our charming guide Khishi (top left on the picture) whose kindness and happiness we really appreciated

Some pictures of the tour by Denis Pierret

Satellite movie of the eclipse

Your suggestions are welcomed