"Banka, West of Java, and the Disposable Telescope"

Total Solar Eclipse of 18 March 1988

On 18 March 1988 I observed my 13th total solar eclipse from Palua Banka (Banka Island), Indonesia.  Some of you may recall a less-than spectacular movie call "Krakatoa, East of Java". Krakatoa is actually West of Java, as is Banka Island.  Our centerline observing site was on the east coast 2.63km SE of Mulia (by road) on a stretch of deserted tropical beach.  Well, it NORMALLY is deserted (so the residents told us), on eclipse morning our arrival on site triggered an attraction of locals like swallows returning to Capastrano.  Throughout the eclipse I and my eclipse chasing companions Carter Roberts (who traveled to the same location with a tour group led by Joel Harris) and Fiona Skinner were surrounded by a sea of people anxious to see what would be, for most, their first eclipse.  While setting up my telescope a fellow, who for some reason looked vaguely familiar to me, pulled up on a motor scooter.  After a moment, I recognized him from my previous sojourn to Indonesia as the pilot of the Garuda airlines L1011 which had transported me on my umbraphillic pilgrimage to Tunjon Koduk in 1983.  I thought "what a co-incidence", but he replied "but you said you would be here".  That in a brief conversation 5 years earlier.  Captain Musafa ("Aeroplane Driver" according to his business card) had ben bitten by the eclipse-bug as a result of our first encounter and was back for more.  Observing over the water provided a spectacular vista to watch the onset of the eclipse and the change in coloration of sky and water color through and after totality.  Though the Sun initially rose through horizon hugging cumulous clouds, an unobstructed view was afforded of totality.  A uniform thin haze gave rise to less than ideal observing conditions (i.e., not the steel blue sky one would like for an eclipse), but did not hamper the view to any significant extent, except for the loss, perhaps, of the very outermost regions of the corona which were somewhat diminished.  For two minutes and twenty-six seconds we were transfixed by a beautiful display of two brilliant, diametrically opposed, prominences one a loop, and one a hedgerow.  More will be added later.  For now, here is what appeared in ASTRONOMY magazine:


Inner Corona/Prominence photographs by Glenn Schneider
Kodachrome-64, 120cm f/12 Nikon achromatic refractor objective.