Russia - Northeastern Siberia

This area is the coldest in the northern hemisphere, surpassed elsewhere only in the interior parts of Antarctica. In March, the springtime sun is beginning to bring some welcome heat to the frigid landscape, but mean temperatures still fall below -40° C in the lingering nights and records reach a cutting -60° C or lower. Telescopes are difficult, if not impossible, to handle in these kinds of temperatures, and travel, even in convoy, is uncomfortable and occasionally risky. Vehicles must be kept running at all times as it is unlikely that one which has cooled will be able to be started again without great difficulty.

Electrical batteries retain only about 20% of their energy at -30° C, and less as the temperature creeps lower. At the colder temperatures, telescopes will have to be operated manually. Film will break as it winds forward and static electricity will leave hidden lightning strikes across the image, to be revealed at development. Unless you are very experienced or very adventuresome, the northern reaches of this eclipse are best left for visual observations at an urban site which lies within the umbral path and which provides at least a minimum of creature comforts. The only good access is along the highway which connects Magadan on the Pacific coast with Yakutsk in the interior. At this latitude, cloud cover should be at its very best: mean amounts near 20%.

Dumakon is very nearly on the center line. Its statistics for sunshine in table 14 look suspiciously low, but most of the reduction is likely due to ice fog, brought on by the exhaust of vehicles and aircraft. It can cut visibility sharply in the cold Arctic air, but is usually only a few meters thick, and not likely to have a great effect on views of the eclipse. One of the beautiful aspects of Arctic air masses is the presence of ice crystals which can bring spectacular haloes around the Sun and Moon. Eclipse observing may or may not be enhanced by their presence, depending mostly on their intensity and the altitude of the Sun at your site. Warmer air aloft after the passage of a cold front will help their formation. On quiet nights their barely audible rustling is known as "the whisper of the stars" by the Yakuts.

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