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Info Circular

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THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF CANADA
1991 SOLAR ECLIPSE EXPEDITION
INFORMATION CIRCULAR


	At its meeting in January 1989, the National Council of
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada established a Solar
Eclipse Committee for the purpose of organizing a national solar
eclipse expedition to Baja California, Mexico to observe the great
eclipse of 11 July 1991. Michael S.F. Watson, an experienced
astrophotographer and veteran of six previous solar eclipse
expeditions, was appointed Committee Chairperson and Expedition
Leader.  Mr. J. Randy Attwood, former President of the Toronto
Centre of the RASC and another experienced eclipse observer and Mr.
Steve Dodson, an astronomy educator with Science North in Sudbury,
Ontario were named as Committee members.

The Expedition concept

	Because of the limited availability of accommodations and
visitor facilities in Baja California Sur, and in order to keep
the cost low and within the budgets of most families, the Committee
decided to make the Expedition a short-two day trip, involving one
night's accommodation in Mexico.  Baja California was chosen as
the location in preference to Hawaii or the Mexican mainland
because of the superior weather prospects and because of the long
duration of totality.  The Committee decided to arrange for a
charter aircraft rather than to travel by commercial airlines in
order to provide the maximum flexibility and in order to allow
eclipse participants to bring telescopes on the trip.

The Itinerary

	Precise, final details of the eclipse trip will not be
formulated until the spring of 1991. Nonetheless, most of the
major details have been established, as follows.  The Expedition
aircraft, probably a DC-8, will leave Lester B. Pearson
International Airport in Toronto early on the morning of Wednesday,
10 July 1991, the day before the eclipse.  The aircraft will fly
directly to the resort of Puerto Vallarta on the Mexican mainland.
The travel agent that is assisting us with the Expedition, Sunquest
Travel of Toronto, has made hotel reservations in Puerto Vallarta
for that evening. We will arrive in Puerto Vallarta in early to
mid-afternoon, with the balance of the day at leisure for
participants.  One meal will be provided aboard the aircraft and
participants are responsible for the balance of the meals during
that day.  A conference and seminar will be held in the hotel that
evening, with talks on a variety of subjects, including a slide
show on Baja California, details of the eclipse, and observing and
photography tips.

	We will arise early on eclipse morning, have breakfast
at the hotel and travel by bus to the Puerto Vallarta airport,


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where our aircraft will take the short one-hour flight from Puerto
Vallarta to the Los Cabos airport in Baja California Sur.  Arrival
at the Los Cabos airport will be between 06:00 and 07:00.  Because
all of our astronomical equipment will have remained on the
aircraft overnight in Puerto Vallarta, we will be required to clear
customs at the Los Cabos airport.  For this reason, a complete list
of makes, models and serial numbers of all telescopes and video
cameras being brought by the Expedition must be provided to the
Mexican government officials approximately a month before eclipse
day.

	At the Los Cabos airport we will be met by eight air-
conditioned buses, equipped with washrooms.  These buses have been
reserved through a Mexican bus company and a contract will be
signed in July 1990.  The buses will then depart the Los Cabos
airport, and drive north some forty kilometres, stopping at a
marker denoting the Tropic of Cancer before turning into the small
town of Santiago which is located about five kilometres south of
the centre line of the eclipse.  Our observing site, which was
picked from among dozens available during a site preview trip in
July 1989, is a large, flat and superbly located soccer stadium in
Santiago, which is more than capable of accommodating all of our
Expedition.  Several back-up sites in the immediate area have also
been chosen, should any difficulties arise on eclipse day. The
soccer field has a covered grandstand, to provide shade while we
wait for the eclipse.

	We plan to arrive at approximately 09:00, to set up our
equipment during the next hour and oneÄhalf, to watch the partial
phases of the eclipse and then to experience 6 minutes 57 seconds
of totality (just one second short of the maximum for this eclipse)
just before noon local time, with the sun standing at an altitude
of 83º. We will be bringing box lunches that will have been
prepared for us by the hotel in Puerto Vallarta and we anticipate
that cold drinks will be available from local merchants.

	Following termination of the partial phase of the
eclipse, we will pack our equipment, reÄboard the buses, and leave
Santiago.  The exact time of the aircraft's departure from Baja
California has not yet been determined.  Further, it may well be
that we will leave from the La Paz airport rather than from the Los
Cabos airport for logistical reasons.  These details remain to be
worked out, but we foresee no difficulty.  In all likelihood the
aircraft will leave in mid to late evening, fly overnight, and land
in Toronto early on Friday morning, 12 July 1991.

The Cost

	Because of the nature of the Expedition we are able to
offer a very reasonable price.  The estimated cost of $1,000 Cdn.
($1,000 U.S. for those who are joining us from the U.S.A.) covers
the cost of the return flight, hotel accommodation in Puerto
Vallarta, bus transfers to and from the Puerto Vallarta airport,
meals aboard the aircraft, breakfast and box lunch for eclipse day


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and the use of the observing site in Santiago. The price of the
Expedition will also cover all incidental expenses such as site
preview trips, postage and long distance telephone, an eclipse
banner and two photographs to be provided to each participant, one
being a group photograph and one being a high quality photograph
of the eclipsed sun.

	In order to reserve a place on the Expedition, a deposit
of $100.00 payable to The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada must
be sent to the following address:

                    RASC 1991 Solar Eclipse Expedition
                    999 XXXXXXXXXXX Avenue
                    Toronto, Ontario M4S 1H7
                    Canada

The deposit is fully refundable until 31 August 1990. Any
cancellation following that time will result in forfeiture of the
deposit.

	The balance of the price of the Expedition will be
payable in two instalments, the first in January 1991 and the
second in March 1991.

Equipment and Personal Effects to be Taken

	Because of the very warm weather to be encountered in
Mexico and because the Expedition is of such a short duration, each
participant will be permitted to take only minimal clothing (extra
tÄshirt, shorts, underwear and socks, bathing suit, etc.). Members
of the Expedition will be permitted to take telescopes, probably
without restriction, together with video, still and movie cameras
and other necessary observing equipment such as binoculars and
tripods.

Possibility of Cancellation

	The Solar Eclipse Committee has been hard at work during
the past year and one-half with our travel agent, with our carrier,
Worldways Airlines of Toronto, and with the Mexican government
officials. Two site preview trips to Baja California have now been
completed (one in July 1989 and one in June 1990), and all of the
logistical details are being settled quite satisfactorily. As with
any enterprise such as this, however, every registrant must
understand that there is some prospect, however slight, that an
insurmountable problem may arise in the future that could
conceivably result either in a drastic alteration of our plans or
in cancellation of the Expedition in its entirety. While we do not
anticipate any such occurrence, it is possible.

	In particular, no charter airline will give a final
commitment as to the availability of an aircraft until the spring
of 1991. While Worldways Airlines has indicated to us that it
foresees no difficulty in providing an aircraft, the Society has


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different than any other expedition that is using charter
transportation.

	As a result of the foregoing, each Eclipse participant
will be required to sign a comprehensive release in favour of the
Society and all of its members, including the Solar Eclipse
Committee, releasing them from all claims with respect to the
Expedition, including any claims with respect to any ultimate
cancellation of the Expedition.


                                 Michael S.F. Watson
                                 Expedition Leader
                                 RASC   1991    Solar   Eclipse
                                 Expedition

                                 999 XXXXXXXXXXXXx Avenue
                                 Toronto, Ontario M4S 1H7
                                 Canada

                                 (416) 999-9999 (Business)
                                 (416) 999-9999 (Residence)
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