Crater Lake Eclipse Preparatory Trip

A preparatory trip to Crater Lake, Oregon for the Annular Solar Eclipse of 14 October 2023.

An ongoing serial blog, to be updated in instalments, periodically.

A preparatory trip to Crater Lake, Oregon for the Annular Solar Eclipse of 14 October 2023.

There will be two Solar Eclipses visible in the US within a gap of 6 months. The first one is an annular solar eclipse on 14th October 2023, and the second one is a total solar eclipse on 8th April 2024. Neelam & I have decided to go and photograph both the eclipse at notable scenic locations in the US.

On 15th June 2023, we flew to San Francisco and drove onwards to Crater Lake to prepare for the Annular Solar Eclipse.

Flight to San Francisco

Will we go this way or that way? Flying to San Francisco is always iffy. Will the flying direction be eastwards over the Pacific? Or will it be a westward and a polar route? I guess it depends on which way the winds are blowing on that day. The winds will assist as tailwinds to help fly the plane faster, spend less fuel and cost less.

Just after take-off, the in-built compass in my phone indicated that today the flight plan is eastwards, and we will be flying through ‘yesterday‘!

The difference between the local time of take-off at Delhi and local time of landing at San Francisco is just 3 hours later. Scheduled local time of take-off at Delhi – 4 am, and scheduled landing time at San Francisco is 7 am. On the 15 hour flight we just use the 3 morning hours of the day of flight, and the rest of the day is still free to explore. Let me explain a bit.

The flight actually took off 5 am dawn on 15th June. For us the sunrise happened at take-off over New Delhi, although the Sun had still not risen on ground below. I made this image just after take-off when the south-western horizon was still dreamy but the plane’s engine was fully lit from the Sun shining from the north-east.

Since we are flying eastwards, time will fly faster. In the 9 hours it would take to reach Japan, the local time would have elapsed 3 hours more than the flight time. It would be approximately 5 pm. Further eastwards and a funny thing will happen. In quite just a moment, it will be same time yesterday, just as we cross the international date line.

We are still flying eastwards, time will still be elapsing faster. And we will land at San Francisco at approximately 8 am local time on 15th June after we took off at 5 am local time on 15th June at New Delhi.

We flew through ‘Yesterday’.


On long flights, I usually look for night time so I can photograph the stars from the plane window. This is not the right month though, June has really short night times at high northern latitudes and even more shortened at the plane’s flying altitude.

Since I was sitting on the right side of the plane, I hoped to get some night shots over the Pacific with the Milky Way of the southern constellations, a.k.a. the core, visible in the photos. I did manage to catch the Scorpio Milky Way rising in the southern direction over the Pacific.

Blue Hour On The Pacific

As soon as the sky darkened I opened the plane window shutter and put up the camera, covered the window all around with black foam to avoid light reflections from the cabin. The plane was flying eastwards (heading 74° at the time of this shot) and since I was sitting on the right side window, it was facing south. The coordinates of the plane were 40.7833° north & 173.3333° west. The plane had crossed the date line and it was the evening blue hour of 14th June.

Blue Hour on the Pacific, with the hint of Milky Way Core rising.

As is customary in the Blue Hour, there are a lot of satellites visible in the image. Antares of Scorpio shines bright in the middle of the image, Shaula and the Butterfly Cluster can be seen just above the cloudy horizon.

Can you imagine how flying westwards would be like? Take-off time at New Delhi and landing time at San Francisco would be same as on the eastward bound route. Unhurried time, just three hours of local time needs to elapse in the 15 hour flight time. Flying westwards, it almost seems like the plane is stationary & the Earth below is rotating for us to reach the Americas.

While flying eastwards the scene changes dramatically. On the other hand flying westwards the local time and the scene remains the same throughout.

To be continued.

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