A brief summary of the trip, with pictures. This was a trip that I began to organise a year ago when air tickets became available for purchase. Since all hotel beds had been booked in 2007 already, I limited the stay to one night. Besides, since the area would be crowded with tourists, it wouldn't be the best time to spend days there anyway. Luckily I got in touch with a local who would let us stay in her house for a symbolic amount of money, really. It was very kind. I was bringing my son, my father and 5 other people from the Norwegian Astronomical Association. Later I also managed to book a car to ensure some mobility. Snowmobiles would offer better mobility, but I didn't bother to try to secure some because they would be hard to get at a reasonable price. The car takes 5 people, a snowmobile only two. So in the end I managed to organise the trip on a shoestring budget, really.
We flew up to Longyearbyen on the 19th March, landing 15:15. The approach has some nice views which leave no doubt that we're halfway between the Arctic circle and the pole:
Our time was limited. We got our car and found our place for the night:
We split in two groups: One group going on a recon trip for tomorrow's event, and another group getting and preparing dinner.
The same night there were some warm-up talks at the university building, which we wanted to attend. We knew a couple of the speakers well.
After breakfast the next morning we went out about an hour and a half before the first contact. It had been snowing overnight, but when we left, it was perfectly clear. We had to go in two groups because of the car capacity, but everyone was at the site we had picked well before first contact. It was a site about 5 km from town. It was an odd sight driving into the valley. About 3000 people were filling up an area of about 2x10 km, plenty of space for everybody, but an odd sight to see all these people with tripods everywhere.
Everything was perfect. Not a cloud in the sky, almost no wind (though it picked up during the totality). The only problem was the temperature of -22C, which caused problems for the camera batteries and fingers trying to operate cameras, but that's a trade off for the clear sky. For me the big impressions were the shadow bands, the extent of the corona, the blackness of the Moon disc, and also a sundog which intensified when we approached totality.
Forth contact was less exciting than first contact, and then there was just time to get some food, pack our stuff and catch the flight. We took off 18:15 after 27 hours in Svalbard and landed in Oslo two and half hour later. Things couldn't really have gone better.
ADDED: The good videos keep coming in. I think this is the best one of so far:
Added (24.03.2015, 07:53)
The best video from the Faroe Islands I've seen:
Added (26.03.2015, 10:26)
Another nice video showing the shadow bands, from Pyramiden, a Russian settlement on Svalbard: