1998, Malaysia

REPORT of Joanne Edmonds, with Patrick Poitevin



So this time the destination would be Malaysia, home to vast palm oil tree plantations, small rubber tree farms, and an ever decreasing tropical rainforest. Flight prices were reasonable, but unfortunately the weather prospects were not favourable. Patrick had reports that the monsoon season had come earlier this year; however, mornings were suppose to be generally clear and the afternoons brought rain. As annularity was at sunrise we were hopeful.

We decided to view from the east coast north of Kota Tinggi on the southern edge of the path. This would give prolonged Baily’s beads as the mountainous edge of the moon skimmed the sun’s edge. This prospect was exciting for me as I had missed the Baily’s beads in the Caribbean. Annularity was at sunrise, the sun only reaching 19 degrees above the horizon, so a clear unobstructed view to the east was a priority.

We arrived in Kota Tinggi on, Friday 21st August. There was no accessib le high ground, and the area was heavy forested with oil palm plantations, the only hope for a good observation site was the coastal road. But we were disappointed, between the coast and the road was secondary jungle, no paths onto the beach, and the jungle was enough to obscure our view. Still, no plans are cast in stone, and reviews when considering the local terrain and weather should always be evaluated for the best possible observation place. Therefore we decided to abandon the original plan and just find a good place to observe and enjoy.

On the morning of the 22nd August preparations began early, sunrise was at 7.01 am, first contact was at 7.10 am. We had found a small very remote beach resort, and we were the only guest. It was a wonderful place to observe.

The sky was quite cloudy. There was high altitude white clouds through which the blue sky could be seen. But there were lower rain clouds which were moving southwards, and to the north it looked clearer. First contact could not be seen. At 7.20 am there was a fleeting glimpse of the sun with a bite taken out. The lower clouds were forming bands horizontal to the horizon. At 7.45 am the sun reached a break in the clouds, we had ten minutes of observation before clouds again obscured the view. The first noticeable change in sky brightness was at 8.05 am, the horizon went pink, and the yellow glow was all around, not as intense as Antigua, but still noticeable. The insects and birds were very noisy.

Then it was as if our prayers had been answered with five minutes to annularity there was a break in the clouds and the whole scene was visible. The owner of the resort arrived and along with the two young Malaysian boys who worked for him were given viewing glasses. Then at 8.21 m 20 s it was second contact, a few fleeting Baily’s beads and not very bright at that. Annularity was non-concentric, and the ring was very faint. Then the clouds gathered again before third contact could be observed. The sun continued to appear and disappear from behind the clouds until 9.05 am. Then the sky was clear again. We observed the large group of sun spots reappearing at 9.29 am, and continued to watch until fourth contact at 9.48 m 14s. So then it was over.

With one wonderful experience finished it was time to head into the Endau Rompin National Park, for a jungle experience complete with leeches.

Joanne Edmonds and Patrick Poitevin