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The Expedition

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A team of astronomers from the UB has traveled to As Sallum (Egypt) to observe the total eclipse and to broadcast the event through this web site. Here you can read the diary of the expedition.

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The expedition members. From left to right: Mar, Salva, Josep Manel and Lola

Night of the 27th March (02:15)
We have just arrived to the old Hotel Shepheards after a Barcelona-Cairo flight with an hour delay. Before embarking to our flight, we have alredady met with other Spanish groups going to As Sallum to observe the eclipse. One of the groups was from Chiclana (Cádiz): Antonio Carmona, teacher at the IES Isla de Leon (San Fernando, Cádiz) and Ana Alonso del Pozo. Without knowing us, they have told the students to follow the eclipse webcast on our webpage, ServiAstro. Warm regards to all the students there!!
Arriving to Cairo we met Badri, our contact in Egypt. He has sorted out for us all the bureaucracy involved with customs and our scary "big box" with the C5 Telescope. He has also introduced us to Adel, our driver in the adventure through the desert. During the way to the Hotel, Badri has given as the first lessons of Arab and Egyptian culture: sucran - laafu!
Tomorrow, Adel is taking us throught the desert road to Marsa Matruh.
Good night from Cairo!!!!!

27th March (11:30)
We are now in the minibus on the way to Marsa Matruh writing these letters. The weather is not exactly as wished. In fact, right now is completely covered and rainy. We began to worry about the bad weather forecast for the E-day. So far, we are getting used to the new currency: egiptian pounds, and to the tipping obsession. Soon after leaving Cairo, we have passed by the piramids in Giza and the sfinx!!!!! Wow! Took pictures from the minibus and back to the main road... we have a long way ahead!!

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A stop in the way to Marsa Matruh

27th March (17:00)
Just arrived to Marsa Matruh. Sky is completely covered and it is windy, rainy and cold. Let's hope the weather gets miracously better for the eclipse! Here, the Blue SIte Hotel is full of groups coming for the eclipse and even a telescope in the garden!!! Fingers crossed for E-day!

27th March (20:50)
We have just consulted the meteosat images and we are a low pression area. We have contacted with David Fernandez that is in Siwa. There, he told us that there are a big sand storm. Tomorrow morning, we leave to As Sallum. We are really worried about the meteorological situation.

28th March
We wake up in Marsa Matruh and look carefully through the window... Sun!! The sky is clear though with some little clouds everywhere.
After a short walk along the beautiful beach, we get on the bus to Salum. The road goes along the coast, the beaches are wonderful. This is a military zone and bathing is forbidden.
Previous to our arrival in Salum we meet several police security controls. They look for bombs under the cars and check who is coming to town. After some waiting we are through all the controls and get to the camp site. It is placed some 6 kilometers away from the Lybian border, on the Salum plain (31ş35'N,25ş8'E). Its name is Sidi Yacop Camp Site (1-25); the observational camps are labeled L,M,N,O. On the large esplanade we meet groups from all countries.
The whole equipment is working for now. Let's hope the weather is fine.

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The Camp

29th March: ECLIPSE DAY

Woke up among clouds, cold and bitter. Everyone was getting ready for the Eclipse. It was not clear that we were going to be able to meet Dr David Fernández and his group. Finally, we met at the Q camp, 5km from the Libian border. This camp was special for professionals, the press center and the presidential tribune, where President Mubarak followed the eclipse. Due to his announced presence, the camp was full of police.
We found no problems with our equipment (three telescopes, the satelite antenna, camera, computer...) and the sky cleared up with no sign of clouds, as forecasted by our colleague, the meteorologist Toni Barrera. Before first contact, our live webcast began without problems.
Egiptian TV International channel --also in the local media-- interviewed our group before the Eclipse. A reporter from Agencia EFE, from Spain, was with us all the eclipse. Numerous Spanish mass media contacted us during the event. Live webcast was a complete success. Totality was overwhelming. Solar corona was impressive and we could hear the shouts and laughs from everyone. West to the Sun, Venus was visible and we took a wonderful picture of it (see it at the "More images" section). We got some Sun prominences, the diamonds ring picture and even a previous "Perl of Baily" picture. The almost four minutes of totality seemed few seconds. We keep with the pictures up to the end of the eclipse with the fourth contact at 2pm.
Once finished, we unmounted the telescopes, satelite antenna and laptop and ate a pic-nic that tasted lovely. Around four pm we started the way back to Cairo and from there to Spain.
It has been a very positive experience and we are very satisfied with the results obtained.
See you at the next live webcast!
We acknowledge all the media for their enthusiasm with this expedition and all the people and institutions that have helped in its success.
We hope to have your attention in following events!!
Goodbye to all those new friends from Egypt and thanks to all of you for your support and attention.

All the members of the UB expedition, at the eclipse observation site.
From left to right: Dr. David Fernández, Mr. Salvador Ribas, Dr. M. Dolores Balaguer and Mr. J. Manel Carrasco.
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