Astronomer travels 11,000 miles to witness his SIXTH total eclipse

editorial image

An astronomer has travelled more than 11,000 miles... simply to be plunged into complete darkness for a little over two minutes.

Michael Knowles, of the Mansfield and Ashfield Astronomical Society, recently went on a voyage to the Pacific Ocean to witness a total solar eclipse.

Taking place at sea on the Makassar Strait between Borneo and Sulawesi, Michael, who is from Mansfield, was aboard a cruise liner for the sun-blocking spectacular.

Lasting just two minutes and 45 seconds, the 58-year-old admits it has become an addiction, with his latest adventure being the sixth full eclipse he has witnessed.

Michael, who spends much of his time at the Sherwood Observatory in Sutton, said: “It’s an addiction, but it’s very stressful for me. I put myself under a lot of pressure because I want results with my camera.

“I was up at 2am that morning checking my camera because I want to get it right.

“If anything goes wrong we have no time. I was ill the time but what got me through was seeing this eclipse.

“It was cloudy earlier in the morning, but the captain put his foot down and it paid off because there were pristine skies.

“It puts the world in perspective when it happens and makes you realise how finite humans are.

“You get the ambience, everything goes quiet and the colours are just so dynamic.”

Michael’s first eclipse was in Cornwall in 1999, but he has since been to Turkey, China, Australia and Norway.

He is also planning a trip to Idaho Falls in America next year for his next eclipse.

“I kill two birds with one stone, it’s a holiday, you get to see some beautiful places and an eclipse - plus I’m very astute at getting good deals,” he joked.