Experience the July 11th, 2010 Total Solar Eclipse in French Polynesia July 1 2010
French Polynesia promises to be the most beautiful location on earth to observe the total solar eclipse predicted for July 11th 2010. The eclipse will last four minutes and 45 seconds from the best-located islands, offering enthusiasts unsurpassed observation conditions.
Astronomers, eclipse chasers and those curious about the workings of the cosmos have already organized their trips to French Polynesian islands. In fact, the total eclipse is only observable from French Polynesia. Myths and legends attached to this exceptional phenomenon will seemingly come to life during the nearly five minutes of blackness lit only by a glowing solar corona.
To welcome visitors, French Polynesian tourist professionals have developed special offers that include trips to the islands that are best placed for eclipse viewing.
Possible locations to observe the phenomenon include:
The Society Islands
The Tuamotu Archipelago, notably the atolls of 'Anaa, Motutuga, Haraiki, Reritou, Marutea, Nihirū and Hikueru, which will experience a four minutes 20 second eclipse, or Tekokota, Marokau, Ravahere, Rekareka, Tauere, Hao, 'Amanu and Tatakoto which will see the eclipse for around four minutes and 45 seconds.
It should be noted that it is currently difficult to plan a trip to the Tuamotu atolls to see the total eclipse because all flights and lodging options have already been booked for that date.
The eclipse will be visible however from the Society Islands (which have many more lodging options), especially on the following islands:
Tahiti which will experience a near-total 99.1% eclipse
Mo'orea next door to Tahiti, which will have 98.6% coverage
Huahine will see 95.2%
Bora Bora 93.7%
What happens during an eclipse?
A solar eclipse is an impressive astral phenomenon that has forever fascinated or frightened the human race. During a solar eclipse the sun progressively disappears during the day and the sky becomes dark for a few minutes. This relatively rare astral phenomenon takes place when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. This can only happen during a new moon when the sun and moon are in conjunction in respect to the Earth. Solar eclipses are distinguished by whether the moon completely or only partially covers the solar disc.
The Polynesian sky offers exceptional conditions
With its near-absence of light pollution, the Polynesian sky is ideal for any sort of stargazing. Enthusiasts also benefit from a very large observable sky area and an uninterrupted celestial dome especially impressive to those coming from the Northern Hemisphere: indeed, 47 constellations are visible in the Southern Hemisphere compared to 29 in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Southern Cross (called Tauhā in Tahitian), Scorpio (Te matau ā Māui) and The Pleiades (Matāri'i) are only a few of the numerous famous constellations visible in the Polynesian sky. Some of these can be seen throughout the year while others are only visible at certain times.
With their stories carried down through oral tradition, constellations held an important place in the daily secular and spiritual lives of ancient Polynesians. Stars regulated the rhythms of the seasons, agriculture and fishing, marked time and guided great ocean voyages. It was via the rising of The Pleiades’ constellation (Matāri'i) that the hot and humid period, known as the season of abundance, began. This change of the seasons was marked with spiritual and celebratory activities and festivities.
At the same time, Polynesians had a deep understanding of the stars, their positioning and movement and this is how they were able to navigate the great Pacific (Te Moana ō Hivain Tahitian) without a compass and colonize the isles of the Pacific in their grand double outrigger canoes (pahī in Tahitian).
Lastly, myths of the cosmos say that at the time of origins only the heavens and the stars existed and that Earth was only a reflection of this; each island or group of islands was related to a star or constellation. Conversely, each social organization and its chief (ari'i) was the reproduction of an astral lineage and its powerful star.
For further information, please contact the Tahiti Tourisme Public Relations Team: