Danes taking to the skies to secure best seat for solar eclipse

March 19, 2015 by Sören Billing
Eclipse watching tourists ride dog sleds outside of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, an archipeligo administered by Norway, on March 19, 2015 ahead of the March 20 total solar eclipse

To make sure clouds don't block their view of Friday's total solar eclipse in the Faroe Islands, a group of 50 Danes were on Thursday preparing to watch the event from a Boeing 737.

"At a height of 11 kilometres we're guaranteed not to have any clouds," John Valentin Mikkelsen, a 63-year-old teacher from the Danish city of Aarhus, told AFP.

The view comes at a price—and not just the 15,800 kroner (2,121 euros, $2,261) Mikkelsen and his wife paid for their own row of three seats on the plane.

While they will be shielded from the vagaries of Faroese weather, there are some things they won't get to experience when watching the from the sky.

"If you're on the ground you can hear the birds behaving differently, and the temperature falls," he said.

"And maybe we won't get the full view as the windows are quite small," he added.

The Faroe Islands, located north of Britain and home to 50,000 people, is along with the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard the only place the will be visible.

The Danish plane was chartered by a science magazine which charged 7,400 kroner for a single seat in the middle of the aircraft and 8,900 kroner for a window seat.

Despite its 148-passenger capacity the aircraft, which will attempt to follow the moon's shadow, will only carry 50 eclipse chasers.

The last of 48 tickets was snapped up in January. Two people won their spots in a competition.

School children show off eclipse bags they bought at the Svalbard Museum on March 19, 2015 ahead of the March 20 total solar eclipse in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, an archipeligo administered by Norway
'A bit hooked'

Danish astronomer and astrophysicist Anja Cetti Andersen will speak on the flight, which takes off from Copenhagen at 0715 GMT and will reach the Faroe Islands' airspace two hours later.

Mikkelsen admitted to having become "a bit hooked" on solar eclipses after driving with his family to Munich in 1999 to watch the phenomenon for the first time.

"I inherited some money from my brother, who unfortunately passed away, and we wanted that to benefit the whole family. So we took our children and their partners to Turkey in 2006 to watch the there, and it was really, really spectacular," he said.

Since then he has also travelled to Russia, China and Australia for the same reason.

The Danish autonomous territory is expecting a surge of more than 8,000 eclipse tourists according to tourism officials, a boon to an economy otherwise largely dependent on fishing and an annual subsidy from Copenhagen.

"It will seem as though time has been paused, as people from all across the world will gather together with Faroese locals to witness the rare and extraordinary occasion," stated a website set up by its tourism board for the occasion, which will live-stream the two and a half minute blackout.

The only caveat: Faroese weather is known for being cloudy and unpredictable, and Friday's forecast is for partially cloudy weather with showers.

"Chances of the skies being overcast were a bit high, so we didn't want to spend money on that," said Mikkelsen, who initially baulked at the high price for watching the eclipse from a plane.

"But then we agreed that we had some money to spare, so we said: 'You only live once, so why not?'" he added.

Explore further: Seeking the dark, eclipse junkies head for the Arctic

Related Stories

UK skies set to dim in decade's deepest solar eclipse

March 11, 2015

On 20 March a total eclipse of the Sun will take place, visible from the North Atlantic Ocean. Observers in the UK and Ireland will see a partial solar eclipse, with up to 97% of the Sun blocked out. This will be the deepest ...

Sky gazers flock to remote islands for total solar eclipse

March 19, 2015

For months, even years, hotels on the remote Faeroe Islands have been fully booked by fans who don't want to miss an almost three-minute-long astronomical sensation. Now the sky gazers just hope the clouds will blow away ...

Recommended for you

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...

EPA adviser is promoting harmful ideas, scientists say

March 22, 2019

The Trump administration's reliance on industry-funded environmental specialists is again coming under fire, this time by researchers who say that Louis Anthony "Tony" Cox Jr., who leads a key Environmental Protection Agency ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.