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IHY 2006 Eclipse Trip to Libya

Daily Journal

Congratulations Everyone on a Successful Trip!

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Day 1: March 21, 2006

We visited the University of Tunis, Department of Physics to take a look at the AWESOME instrument installation there. Zola ben Lokdar and Hassen Ghalalila (shown in the photo) are the principal scientists. Great progress has been made since October. The instrument has been installed, several small technical issues have been solved, and the instrument has been producing usable data for about a month.

The picture shows Hassen and the VLF antenna on top of the Physics building in Tunis.

(click to enlarge)

Day 2: March 22, 2006

In the morning we attended a student rocket launch. The event was held at a Tunisian Air Force base north of Tunis. In spite of light rain, a group of Tunisian students work to launch a balloon to monitor weather at the launch site. The winds were high enough to eventually cancel the balloon launch, but a number of rockets built by the students were launched as others, all members of the Association of Junior Science, Tunisia (AJST), look on.

In the afternoon, meetings were held with Mr. Hassen Akrout, Leader of the Tunis chapter of the AJST, regarding the upcoming talks tomorrow, and joint activities planned for the Libyan eclipse next week. Day after tomorrow, we leave Tunis for Tripoli, and the Libyan phase of the trip begins.

Joe Davila meeting with
Mr. Hassen Akrout

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People at the rocket launch site

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Viewing the rocket launch

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Day 3: March 23, 2006

It was a very busy day today. I presented a talk this morning at the American Corner on "Observing the Sun in 3D" (see picture), and in the afternoon at the City of Science "Using Sounding Rockets for Science in NASA". Both talks were well attended and lively question and answer sessions followed.

Unfortunately, we confirmed that our BGAN ground station was defective. After numerous calls, and extensive trouble shooting we were able to convince the supplier to send us a replacement. The replacement is scheduled to arrive in Tripoli, Libya on March 26. We have our fingers crossed.

Tomorrow afternoon we leave for Libya.

The photo shows Joe Davila and his audience at the American Corner

(click to enlarge)

Day 4: March 24, 2006

Another busy, but enjoyable day. It started at 8:00 am with an interview with a newspaper reported at the hotel. We had no "official business" today, so Hassen (University of Tunis) picked us up at 9:00 am to visit the Bardot Museum. This museum traces the history of Tunisia from pre-historic times through the Ottoman period.

Afterward we had a quick lunch and toured what is left of the ruins of Carthage. We visited the baths, and the forum areas, and viewed the ancient harbors of Carthage.

At 5:30 pm we left Tunis for Tripoli Libya. The process at customs went very smoothly, we were met by Adel from the US Liason Office, and taken to the hotel straight away.

Tomorrow, we will all change money to get Libyan Dinars, and I will talk at al Fateh University about STEREO and the 3D Sun.

Day 5: March 25, 2006

We arrived in Tripoli last night to find that we had a hotel for only one night, not the two nights required. The US Liason Office was able to find us hotel accomodations this afternoon, and so we are now set.

The full crew is now here. Lika, Chris, Don and Kim Hassler have now joined us along with four NASA Public Affairs people, for a total of 11. It takes two vans for us to move, but everyone seems to be coping.

This morning we visited al-Fateh University in Tripoli. We were surprised to find a modern looking University with about 70,000 students! We were warmly welcomed and then presented a series of talks on Space Weather and its Impacts. The talks were well received and well attended.

Before lunch, we had an open discussion with the faculty regarding potential collaborations. Lunch was then provided by the University.

After lunch we proceeded to the hotel, where I am preparing this report. Later in the afternoon we will go to the Sarouk (not sure of the spelling) which is the old city for some shopping. Tomorrow we visit the Center for Remote Sensing, and later in the afternoon fly to an intermediate stop, and the following morning we proceed on to Waw au Namous.

Day 6: March 26, 2006

On Sunday we visited the Center for Remote Sensing and Space Science in Tripoli. We had about a 1 hour discussion of possible collaboration opportunities between US and Libyan scientists. We were then taken to the National Bureau of Research. There we met Ministneer Matoug who was responsible for inviting us to Libya, and talk with him for about 10 minutes. We (Joe, Chris, Don, Lika) delivered a talk on space weather, and then participated in a panel discussion with the staff.

After a late lunch we boarded a plane to fly to Waw Kabir. There we were housed for the night at a remote guest house in an agricultural research area. The next morning we traveled by helicopter from Waw Kabir to the observing site at Waw an Namous.

Day 8: March 28, 2006

The wind blew all day, and everything was filled with sand (yes I mean everything!). During the night the wind calmed, and today we began assembling the instrument to observe the eclipse tomorrow. Everything on both experiments seems to be working at this point. We are about 50% completed, and tomorrow will be an exciting and busy day.

After the eclipse, we will have 3 hours to pack all of the equipment, and load it on the helicopter for the return trip. It is now nearly midnight, and I just finished the observing sequence for tomorrow.

Day 10: March 30, 2006

Yesterday was the eclipse. It was fantastic! There we hundreds of people all gathered deep in the desert to witness this remarkable event. For our part the instruments ran well at eclipse time. We had some trouble with the computer in the morning due to the cold, and with one of the generators. But in the end all exposures were obtained, and we are looking forward to analyzing the data.

I did not take any pictures yesterday of the crowd, I was just too busy with the setup. After the eclipse we had to pack all of the boxes for the long 4-wheel drive trip across the desert.

Most of the team left yesterday (March 29) , I will leave today to visit Sebha University and talk to them about hosting an IHY instrument.

Photos are available at:

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