Nuclear Ninety North
Eclipse of the Midnight Sun
August 1st, 2008
Between July 19th and August 6th, 2008 I was off to the North Pole—no, really—and thereafter to observe the total eclipse of the Sun off the coast of Novaya Zemlya in the Barents Sea. This is the third Fourmilab “Holiday in Hell” eclipse expedition: previous destinations were Iran in 1999 and Zambia in 2001.
So how do you get to the North Pole, you ask? Well, there's always the tedious dogsled method, but if you're in a hurry, nothing beats a Russian nuclear powered icebreaker, which on this voyage set a new speed record for a surface ship on the passage from the Arctic littoral to the Pole.
I came back with lots of pictures—2383, in fact—34 gigabytes of them. Here I've selected a mere 360 which chronicle the expedition. You can either peruse the gallery from the start or use the links below to jump directly to sections that interest you.
All of the pictures in these galleries have been tagged with the date and time they were taken in Universal Time, and many are further identified with latitude and longitude, thanks to a link between the Garmin GPSmap 60CSx GPS receiver and Nikon D300 camera used for most of the photography on the expedition.
|Toward the Barents Sea|
|Our Sturdy Ship|
|Below Decks: Engineering|
|On the Bridge|
|Ships that Pass in the Polar Day|
|Thar He or She Blows|
|Fishing Fleet Encounter|
|Approaching Franz Josef Land from the South|
|Approaching the Pole: Arctic Icescapes|
|At the Pole|
|Meeting the Yamal|
|Bashing a Bergy Bit|
|Tikhaya Bukhta, Hooker Island|
|Cape Tegethoff, Hall Island|
|Farewell, Franz Josef Land|
|Back to Murmansk|
Note to nitpickers: Yes, the subtitle of this document is not precise in the sense that the eclipse happened around noon local time, not at midnight. But the Arctic in the summer is the “land of the midnight Sun” and, indeed, the eclipse provided the only darkness we experienced in the weeks above the Arctic Circle, so I hope you'll excuse the imprecision in the interest of verbal imagery.
by John Walker
August 20th, 2008