Author: Kate

04 Jun 2021

Number 13 – lucky for some? An Antarctica flight into totality


Some say the number 13 is unlucky.  I’m not one to believe in superstition, but I must say there feels as if something has been stopping me from successfully chasing my 13th total solar eclipse.

Travel restrictions stopped me and most of my international eclipse community from chasing totality in December 2020 in Argentina / Chile.  Despite renewed optimism for international travel in 2021, the options for traveling to Antarctica for totality in December 2021 remain limited.   Even if South American borders remain open to allow travelers to connect with their cruise ships to Antarctica, COVID uncertainties may still prevent some travelers from boarding.    Once successfully on board, one then has to hope the high chance of clouds from the remote Weddell Sea will not impede the view.   This is why many of my past eclipse tour community and personal chasing friends have opted out of any attempts to chase totality 2021 – there are too many unknowns and potential issues that are outside of our control.

But …..  there is now hope for us Aussie eclipse chasers. For those not in the know, Australians have been prevented from travelling internationally for over a year, and will continue to be restricted until 2022.

Most in the travel industry within Australia have had to ‘pivot’ and find new solutions to work around COVID limitations.  Chimu Expeditions are based in Australia, and have an extensive history of offering interesting tours to Antarctica and other worldwide destinations.   With COVID restrictions impacting upon Australian travel, they have recently opened up interesting domestic flight options which are of great appeal, including sightseeing flights south to view the Aurora Australis, and over Antarctica.   These new options have been extremely popular.

Over the past few months interesting conversations have taken place regarding the possibility and viability of a flight from Australia being able to get into the path of totality.  After much plotting and planning, Chimu are now going ahead with their planned charter flight with Qantas.  Boom!

The plan is to fly from Melbourne, doing a scenic flight over Antarctica and then intersecting the path of totality to allow those on board to experience totality from above the cloud.  To meet COVID requirements, this is a domestic flight, and open to anyone within Australia.

I’m excited beyond belief.

The flight is an incredible opportunity to view two wonders – the immense vastness of the Great White Continent;  as well as seeing a total solar eclipse from the plane.  It is likely to appeal not just to eclipse chasers, but to the traveling public of Australia who have been cooped up for so long and may decide that this is the perfect post-COVID lockdown experience.  Just imagine the vibe on board!

I’m encouraging all chasers to get in early.   Expressions of interest and the flight brochure can be viewed via this exclusive eclipse chaser link here:   https://forms.gle/1Resa9Cs3XC6Fr796

It may just be that my 13th total solar eclipse chase is going to be the luckiest by far!

30 Mar 2021

Community Eclipse Planning – Zoom workshop 9-10 April 2021

 

I’ve been chasing total eclipses for over 20 years.  While waiting for each chase, I usually channel my energies into community eclipse planning and working behind-the-scenes on projects for future eclipses.

Despite living in Australia, I am a member of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Solar Eclipse Task Force, which is the key supporting organization for solar eclipse planning across the US.  We have been meeting via Zoom regularly and are working towards future eclipse coordination in the US.

Plans are now ramping up in preparation for the next total solar eclipse visible across the US, including Mexico and Canada, on 8 April 2024.   If you thought the ‘Great American Eclipse of 2017’ was huge, then be aware that was just the warm-up.  With so much more awareness, the ‘Greater North American Total Solar Eclipse of 2024’ is going to be huge!   And an added bonus – an annular (‘ring’) solar eclipse will be visible across the US and parts of Mexico the year before, on 14 October 2023.   Make sure to mark these dates in your diary.

This means community eclipse planning needs to start NOW for all communities who find themselves in the Moon’s shadow in 2023 and/or 2024.

To help you with this, the AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force is hosting the next planning weekend workshop via Zoom on Friday and Saturday, 9 and 10 April 2021, to coincide with the three-year countdown to the total eclipse in 2024.   This online workshop will be of interest to anyone who needs to be involved in preparations for these two solar eclipses, and there is a great line-up of experienced presenters who are keen to support you.  Day 1 of the workshop will provide a detailed overview of these solar eclipse opportunities across the US, and guidance about eye safety.  Day 2 of the workshop is dedicated to eclipse planning.  I will be delivering a presentation on community eclipse planning on Day 2, and then taking part in a panel discussion on the topic that will also feature others who will be sharing their planning experience from 2017.

There is a low fee of $20 to take part in the weekend workshop. Please CLICK HERE for more detailed information, any questions, and to register your attendance.  If you cannot attend this workshop, then make sure to still link in with the Eclipse Task Force to be kept informed of future planning workshops.

I’ve been guiding and researching community eclipse planning for many years now, and my top three nuggets of advice based upon my own direct experience and the many, many hindsight interviews I have done after each eclipse:   start planning early;  focus on the community; and consult with eclipse experts.   This workshop will help you get started – you will be warmly welcomed by the Solar Eclipse Task Force, and you will have an opportunity to connect with others who are also starting out with their planning too.   I look forward to seeing you there.

08 Dec 2020

2020 – The one we had to learn to let go

As an eclipse chaser, I spend my time counting down the days, hours and minutes to the next time I can be in the Moon’s shadow.  It is an incredibly important part of my life, and in many ways eclipses have become a more meaningful marker of time for me than calendar years.   I know where I will be for each of the eclipse years of totality.

Like all eclipse chasers, I had planned big things for the total eclipse of December 14, 2020. This was to be the eclipse with clear skies, broad landscapes, and cultural delights viewed from Chile or Argentina, and I had set my sights, yet again, on Argentina.

Not chasing this eclipse was difficult for me personally, as it meant that I had to miss my 13th total eclipse.  However, this is not really about me at all – there is a much bigger picture here.  The tour I was leading was not able to proceed, and as a result 65 people had their plans canceled; and very sadly the tour company I worked with was forced to cease trading due to the situation in Argentina.  These circumstances were all outside of my control, and were consequences of this pandemic.  This was the impact only in my immediate circle related to eclipse travel – every one of you will have your own story of how this pandemic has affected your life and the loss you have faced.

Now with less than a week to go for the next total eclipse, I feel at peace knowing that I am not chasing this eclipse.  Not traveling is a sacrifice I am willing to make for the greater good, and most eclipse chasers have grounded themselves for 2020.  However, a few hardy international chasers remain committed to the cause – desperately seeking updates and guidance on how to get into the path of totality in South America despite the many remaining obstacles of quarantine, closed borders, test requirements, and traveler restrictions.

If I can slip into my alternate role as a psychologist here… what we are currently experiencing more than any time in my life is a complete lack of control.  If we try to gain control over things we have no control over, we are just left with anxiety.  So we have a choice – those who can be flexible in our thinking know that when we have no control, it is better to roll with it, and focus on the things we DO have control over.

Some, however, will find it difficult to see they have a choice, and will do all they can to stay in control.  In this situation, without any control, all they can do is arm themselves with information and continue to plan.   Unfortunately, the pandemic response varies considerably worldwide, and even within each country, state, and region information changes almost by the hour.  Keeping up-to-date for chasing this eclipse in South America is exhausting – what is promised on one day can be easily overridden on a different day by some other authority.  And when we become so focused on the end goal, we lose sight of the fact that when we travel in such an environment we expose not only ourselves, but others – our eclipse chaser friends, other travelers, locals we meet, officials on the ground, our hosts, and then our loved ones when we return – to greater risks.   And ultimately – we still have no control.

If you are still outside of South America, then it is ok to give yourself permission to not travel and chase this eclipse.   This is not a sign of failure or defeat, but a sign of strength as you are making a choice. With this comes a sense of peace and acceptance.

If you are already within South America – then do enjoy the eclipse safely, knowing that chasers around the world will be with you, watching from afar and sharing the sense of wonder and awe with you.  Those already living within the path of totality are considered the lucky ones, where all they have to do on eclipse day is go outside and look up.  I will be watching online, and plan to be part of a Slooh live broadcast from Chile, talking about how this year’s world events have affected us eclipse chasers.

Post-pandemic eclipse chasing will be with a renewed sense of gratitude for having the freedom and flexibility to travel in the future. Until then, 2020 will be remembered by the eclipse chasing community as the one we had to learn to let go.

11 Mar 2018

Totality 2020: Tour Announcement

Join me in the path of totality in 2020. (c) Kieron Circuit

 

I have some exciting news!

My 2020 tour in collaboration with The Independent Traveller is now finalised.

This will be my third eclipse tour with The Independent Traveller.  After our incredible experience of totality in Wyoming in August 2017, we are again offering something special and unique in astronomy travel, suitable for both new and experienced chasers. 

The tour will be led by me, and will be of appeal to those who want to have a great eclipse experience with a beautiful scenic outlook.  Clear skies, glacial lakes, and volcanos anyone??

Rosemary, the owner of The Independent Traveller, has been running tours in South America for many years, and has extensive contacts on the ground.  During her visit in January, she was able to secure exclusive use of a really beautiful viewing location in an area with excellent weather prospects, and some quite exclusive accommodation too.  A difficult mix to achieve in this part of Patagonia.

Here are the bare details:

  • Six night tour, commencing and ending in Buenos Aires
  • Viewing from the Argentinian side of the Andes, giving us excellent weather prospects
  • Very comfortable hotel options, ensuring a quality experience
  • Pre- and post-eclipse briefings
  • Exclusive eclipse viewing site
  • Transport options in the unlikely event of poor weather at our primary viewing location
  • Estimated maximum numbers of 60

 

For more details of this tour, including pricing options, please register your interest here  – and mention our special code word:  OPTIMISM.   Rosemary will answer all of your questions, and will be delighted to help you with the tour and some pretty incredible add-ons as well.

Interest is high, and there is no doubt that this tour will sell out.

We will not be offering a tour for 2019, although I will of course be traveling independently.

I look forward to welcoming you on this tour in 2020.

 

 

 

 

14 Jun 2017

Press Release – New Eclipse Book Describes the First-Time Eclipse Experience

book launch, eclipse experience, totality, eclipse, author, Dr Kate Russo, eclipse 2017, total eclipse

An eclipse-chasing psychologist is coming to the US to launch her book and share personal stories of what it is like to experience a total eclipse. And her message is clear – don’t miss this.

Talk to any eclipse chaser, and they will tell you that the total eclipse is one of the world’s most fascinating and awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. Yet it is very hard to convey what it is like to those who have never seen one before. How does one describe the indescribable?

“During a total solar eclipse, you experience the impossible. It is an exhilarating, eerie and moving experience. Changes occur above you, around you, and within you”, explains Dr Kate Russo, an Australian eclipse-chasing psychologist based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Dr Kate Russo is unique as an eclipse chaser as she has a background not in astronomy – but in psychology.

Since seeing her first total eclipse in 1999, she has traveled the world and has now seen 10 total eclipses. She researches and shares different aspects of the total eclipse – from how communities prepare, the motivations of eclipse chasers, to what it is like to experience the total eclipse for the first time.

She is a regular in the media before every eclipse, and has surveyed and interviewed hundreds of people before and after a total eclipse. No one understands more about the human experience of totality.

“Many people think that a total eclipse is only of relevance to geeks or bearded men with telescopes. They do not realise it is an emotional and other-worldly experience for everyone. People are quick to turn off at facts and figures, and stories of traffic Armageddon. Personal stories convey WHY people are so excited by the eclipse on August 21st. You will feel a primitive and eerie fear; it will suddenly go dark, you are likely to feel goosebumps and then cry out in surprise as you experience the beauty of the Universe before you. You will feel insignificant, and connected as you witness the impossible. You may even then become an eclipse chaser yourself. It is a profound experience for many people. But you MUST get into the path of totality.”

To help share personal stories, Russo has just launched her third book, Being in the Shadow: Stories of the First-Time Total Eclipse Experience. This non-fiction book features stories from six ordinary people, and is aimed at ‘eclipse virgins’ – those who have never experienced a total eclipse. This includes all Americans under the age of 40, and most above. This is not your typical ‘how to see an eclipse’ book.

Russo is known for being a passionate and inspiring speaker, making the eclipse experience come alive and leaving her audiences wanting more. She is soon traveling to Nebraska from 17-28 June to deliver public lectures and to promote her new book. Signed copies will be available at all of her events.

She will be viewing the total eclipse on August 21 from Teton Village, Wyoming, where she will again be leading a small group of international eclipse chasers with her tour group The Independent Traveller.

Being in the Shadow: Stories of the First-Time Eclipse Experience can be purchased on Amazon.com for $16.99 for paperback, and $8.99 for the ebook, which can also be downloaded directly from the author website.

Email for bulk orders and journalist review copies.

Email:  Kate@beingintheshadow.com

FB: @Beingintheshadow

Twitter: @DrKateRusso