Polar bear

Nuclear Ninety North

Eclipse of the Midnight Sun

August 1st, 2008

Diamong Ring at third contact

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.

Murmansk Airport Murmansk
Departure Departure
Sister Ships Sister Ships
Toward the Barents Sea Toward the Barents Sea
Our Sturdy Ship Our Sturdy Ship
Below Decks: Engineering Below Decks: Engineering
On the Bridge On the Bridge
Ships that Pass in the Polar Day Ships that Pass in the Polar Day
Kittiwakes Kittiwakes
Thar He or She Blows Thar He or She Blows
Fishing Fleet Encounter Fishing Fleet Encounter
Approaching Franz Josef Land from the South Approaching Franz Josef Land from the South
Polar Bears! Polar Bears!
Approaching the Pole: Arctic Icescapes Approaching the Pole: Arctic Icescapes
At the Pole At the Pole
Fogbow Fogbow
Meeting the Yamal Meeting the Yamal
Ziegler Island Ziegler Island
Bashing a Bergy Bit Bashing a Bergy Bit
Rubini Rock Rubini Rock
Tikhaya Bukhta, Hooker Island Tikhaya Bukhta, Hooker Island
A Walrus A Walrus
Wilczek Island Wilczek Island
Cape Tegethoff, Hall Island Cape Tegethoff, Hall Island
Farewell, Franz Josef Land Farewell, Franz Josef Land
Eclipse Day Eclipse Day
Back to Murmansk Back to Murmansk
Farewell, Russia Farewell, Russia

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

This document is in the public domain.