Chasing Shadows

For the perfect shot, one man will go to the ends of the earth

Chasing Shadows For astronomer Geoff Sims, it was a high school moon photography project that provided the spark for what would develop into an obsession of cosmic proportions: devoting his life to chasing and photographing total eclipses. Now he is planning the "the most extreme chase he has ever been involved in": following the eclipse to the northern-most reaches of civilisation in the forbidding ice world of Svalbard.
Geoff and his team hike across unforgiving glaciers to find the perfect location to view the latest total solar eclipse. The potential dangers of the environment that they are working in hits home when they come across bear tracks in the snow. Already during their stay on the island, a polar bear had to be shot and killed - the first for three years. However, Geoff remains resolute: "I didn't come all this way to run away from a polar bear on eclipse day."

It's an unpredictable business. On one eclipse hunt, Geoff travels to a remote region of Ethiopia, where days of travel and a multi-camera setup are thwarted at the last minute by clouds covering the sun. In Turkey he joins throngs of eclipse hunters at the temple of Apollo in Side, and in Mongolia his only companions were the wild horses roaming the great expanses of the Mongolian steppe. Geoff is fascinated by the philosophical and humanist messages that eclipse hunting provides: "It really takes you back to the origins of humanity…For millennia people have looked up at eclipses in awe"

Back in Svalbard and all the preparation is paying off, with no sign of any polar bears. As the moon creeps across the sky and the eclipse approaches totality, the horizon slowly turns a powdered pink. Soon the black disk of the moon engulfs the yellow sun: totality has been reached. "Oh my God, I'm just, overwhelmed."

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