Dear Eclipse '99 Voyage to Darkness Passengers,
As the date for our rendezvous with totality approaches, I'd like to make you aware of two exciting additions to our Black Sea Voyage to Darkness eclipse-at-sea experience.
The Olympic Countess has been selected NASA's Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum as the site of live internet and NASA Select television coverage.
The live internet coverage will include split-screen imagery of the eclipse, views of the Olympic Countess and its passengers, satellite images of the moon's shadow as it moves across the Earth, and automated on-board weather station readings of temperature, wind speed, and other meteorological data. Live chat opportunities will be provided with scientists and other observers during the event.
NASA Select, the space agency's television channel, will also broadcast live from the decks of the Countess.
The internet coverage of the eclipse will be archived on the Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum web page.
All educational eclipse activities from the decks of the Olympic Countess are being made possible by a partnership between NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Sun-Earth Connection Forum and the University of California Berkeley's Space Science Lab.
The Olympic Countess will serve as the lead Royal Olympic ship for our four Voyages to Darkness. It will provide all meteorological information needed for our tiny fleet which includes, in addition to the Countess, the Stella Solaris, World Renaissance, and Stella Oceanis. The NASA participation will help us obtain the most up-to-date information and put us in the best location for viewing eclipse totality.
The NASA participation, the only officially-sponsored educational program for the eclipse, is largely due to the efforts of Astronaut Dr. Ronald Parise, one of our featured enrichment lecturers. Dr. Parise and David Israel, satellite communications engineer for the Networks and Mission Services Project at Goddard, will supervise the technical aspects and ensure that the educational project is a success.
Special Event, special station Amateur ham radio participants
We have another exciting offering for Olympic Countess Voyage to Darkness passengers. Astronaut Ron Parise is also an avid amateur (ham) radio enthusiast. A popular activity in the ham radio community is a special event station, operated in celebration of an unusual or historic event. For example, a group of operators might set up a station at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight. In exchange for contacting these stations, ham radio operators around the world expect to receive a certificate commemorating the event.
Dr. Parise has graciously offered to set up a special event station on board the Olympic Countess that will connect the ham radio community around the world to the excitement on board our ship. He will be operating a HF special event station on board the Olympic Countess both before and after the eclipse to commemorate the celestial event. The special event station will be accessible to any licensed amateur radio operators before and after (but not during) the eclipse. During the eclipse Dr. Parise's attention will be devoted exclusively to the NASA project. To commemorate the event Dr. Parise will design and make available a color certificate for those taking part.
Any licensed radio operators sailing with us are invited to participate in the special event station or use the station at other times during the cruise. In order to be permitted to operate the station during the cruise, interested passengers must have with them temporary licensing documents from Greece, Turkey, Ukraine, and Romania. The forms and instructions for obtaining the licenses are available from the American Radio Relay League, 225 Main St., Newington, CT 06111 (Telephone 860-594-0200).
All Voyage to Darkness booked passengers should have received a packet of materials mailed directly to you (or your travel agent) which includes, among other information, Astrophotographer George Keene's eclipse photography booklet (prepared especially for Royal Olympic passengers), our enrichment supplement program and a condensed version of the official NASA Eclipse Bulletin for the 1999 August 11 total solar eclipse dealing with the eclipse written by Fred Espenak and Jay Anderson. Those with internet connections may also view the publication online. Additional information can be found on our Eclipse '99 Fact Sheet.
I look forward to sharing the excitement of our Eclipse '99 adventure-at-sea with you.
NASA Live TV and Internet coverage from Olympic Countess in the Black Sea
NASA has designated the Eclipse '99 Voyage to Darkness sailing as its official base for its Eclipse '99 educational program. NASA's participation is under the supervision of astronaut, Dr. Ron Parise and satellite communications engineer, David Israel. Elaborate preparations have been undertaken to provide this satellite transmission from the decks of the cruise ship.
Wednesday, August 11, 1999, is the date of the last solar eclipse of the millennium. The total eclipse is visible only in Europe and Asia, so eclipse tours to the Black Sea were sold out a year in advance. The Moon's shadow, traveling at nearly 1 km/sec, will traverse the center of Europe, continue through the Black Sea, and cross Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan to India. The event will be seen by millions and will, no doubt, be the most publicized astronomical event ever - at least in Europe. Though north Americans will not be able to view the phenomenon directly they will have ringside seats to view the event through the media coverage which is planned, including both NASA Select TV broadcasts and internet coverage.
Images of the eclipse as it occurs will be transmitted via NASA Select under the supervision of Astronaut Dr. Ron Parise and the NASA team.
NASA's live data will feature split-screen imagery of the eclipse on the internet, views of the ship and its passengers, GOES satellite images of the shadow's progress across the Earth, automated onboard weather station readings of temperature, wind speed, etc., courtesy of NASA's OMNI (Operating Missions as Nodes on the Internet) project.
Interact with scientists and other observers to understand what can be learned from eclipses
This provides an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the increasing popularity of sleepovers at science centers and planetariums. Girl Scouts are taking part in one such event at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, and other locations. These nighttime events are intended to bring the excitement of a live viewing of the eclipse to the general public. Check the website in coming weeks and months.
The event takes place in the summer when school is out so it is an excellent summer learning experience for students and teachers. Even if you miss the eclipse, the resulting coverage will be archived on the website for educational enrichment at any time. These activities and background materials will be a useful adjunct to teaching about the Sun. All you need is a standard computer with a web browser connected to the network. If you have access to the NASA Select TV channel (check with your local cable provider) the experience will be enhanced by the eclipse broadcast. Some of the materials for the program will come from the cooperative efforts of the Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum (SECEF) and the Passport to Knowledge (PTK) series of interactive learning adventures which recently broadcast the first two parts of Live from the Sun. A Teacher's Guide, Kit and Web site providing background on recent discoveries, current missions, and the Sun in human history are available. Email Dr. James Thieman: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (301)286-9790
SECEF is a partnership between NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Lab.
E-mail: Ted Pedas email@example.com