Total Eclipse in Siberia

Total Eclipse in Siberia

On August 21, 2017, people across the continental United States were able to see an extraordinary and rare cosmic event known as a total solar eclipse, when the moon’s shadow completely obscures the sun for a few brief, thrilling moments. The main event  cut a narrow path across dozens of cities in the Lower 48 states, starting in Salem, Oregon, and ending in Charleston, South Carolina.

Back in 2008, MIR was onsite to observe yet another total eclipse of the sun in Siberia – and they brought 320 of their closest friends to see it as well.

Gathering for Solar Eclipse<br>Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Tropical Siberian viewing site for the 2008 total solar eclipse
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Darkness at NoonA total solar eclipse is an awe-inspiring sight; in ancient times when the world went dark in the middle of the day, people cowered in fear, thinking the world was ending, and spun tales of supernatural intervention to explain the phenomenon.

Science has since learned so much about eclipses that astronomers can predict them far into the future, pinpointing the places and times they can best be seen. With this knowledge comes a new phenomenon: Total Eclipse Chasers. They know where they need to go to be under the Path of Totality, the swath of territory where the sun is shadowed by the moon for the longest period of time. They’ll travel to Antarctica or the middle of the South Pacific for this experience.

MIR found the perfect spot for total eclipse travelers: on a beach outside Novosibirsk, Siberia Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

MIR found the perfect spot for total eclipse travelers: on a beach outside Novosibirsk, Siberia
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Sunny SiberiaOn August 1, 2008, they needed to go to the middle of Siberia. The Path of Totality cut a track through Siberia from top to bottom, entering at Novaya Zemlya, a remote island in the Arctic Ocean, and exiting into Mongolia. Much of the land under the path is a forbidding region of permafrost bog, but in southern Siberia it passed almost directly over Novosibirsk, the region’s biggest city.

To some people, Siberia seems as remote as Antarctica, but to MIR it’s practically their backyard.

They were able to arrange for over 320 eclipse watchers to arrive in Novosibirsk via plane and train to enjoy the celestial event at a beachside locale. Now, Novosibirsk is not really a tourist hotspot, and its hotel space was pushed to the max for the occasion. But these are MIR’s stomping grounds – some of their most popular trips are by private train along the Trans-Siberian Railway, which runs right through Novosibirsk.

Solar Eclipse viewing<br>Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

MIR staffers wearing sunscreen and their special Eclipse-Viewing Glasses 
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Trains, Planes and AutomobilesSo some clients arrived by private train, and were accommodated in their swanky train cars parked on a siding; others stayed with families in homestays and still others in every last available hotel room in the area. Some were driven down to Barnaul, a mid-sized college and manufacturing town, where they enjoyed Siberian café culture on the tree-lined streets before being transported to the perfect eclipse-viewing spot.

The Eclipse of 2008 was deemed a great success by everyone who took part.

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A “total eclipse chaser” prepares for total darkness in Novosibirsk, Siberia
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

(click on photo for larger version)


Remote ViewingSince then, there have only been five total eclipses. Their prime viewing sites were in Nepal, Easter Island, northern Australia, the Faroe Islands, and the wilds of Borneo.

Closer to HomeGood news for workers at MIR’s Seattle office, though: On August 21, 2017, Seattle was almost directly under the Path of Totality! It was the first time a total solar eclipse has been visible in the Lower 48 since 1979, and the first time since 1918 that the eclipse will span both coasts of the United States. 

Travel to Siberia with MIR

MIR is your Siberia travel expert – with more than 30 years of travel experience to Russia and with affiliate offices in Ulan Ude and Irkutsk (both in Siberia), as well as in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

MIR’s full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”

Over 30 years of travel expertise means that the specialists at MIR know how to get there, what to do while you’re there, and how to enhance your trip in each of our destinations. For more information about what to know before you go, check out MIR’s insider’s guide into travel to Siberia’s Lake Baikal and Buryatia Region

(Top photo credit: Douglas Grimes – The solar corona shines from behind the moon’s shadow during the height of the eclipse) 

PUBLISHED: October 21, 2014

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