MIR’s 30 Years: Overland Expeditions – Total Solar Eclipse in Siberia (VIDEO)

MIR’s 30 Years: Overland Expeditions – Total Solar Eclipse in Siberia (VIDEO)

(Douglas Grimes is co-founder and president of MIR Corporation.)

In the 30 years since the founding of MIR Corporation, I cannot begin to count the memorable and extraordinarily creative handcrafted, custom journeys that we have nurtured and successfully produced. It’s not unlike being the director of a movie, overseeing the imaginative beginnings, middles and endings as well as the critical details that make up each section, each scene.

One of those memorable highlights was in the heart of Siberia, chasing the sun in a total solar eclipse.

Celestial SightingsIn 2008, about 350 of us – our international MIR team and travelers from around the U.S. – descended on Novosibirsk, Siberia for a rare event: a total solar eclipse, when the circle of the sun is totally erased by the moon’s shadow. Once the stuff of folklore, legends, and cowering in fear that the world was ending, today astronomers and “total eclipse chasers” (as they are called) fearlessly watch the skies for a solar eclipse in the Path of Totality, the swath of territory where the sun is shadowed by the moon for the longest period of time.

MIR found the perfect spot for total eclipse travelers: on a beach outside Novosibirsk, Siberia
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Sunny SiberiaOn August 1, 2008, that Path of Totality sliced through the middle of Siberia from top to bottom, entering at Novaya Zemlya, a remote island in the Arctic Ocean, and exiting into Mongolia. In southern Siberia it passed almost directly over Novosibirsk, the region’s largest city with a population of 1.4 million at that time.  To some people, Siberia may seem as remote as Antarctica, but to us at MIR it is practically our backyard stomping grounds. We know Siberia like the back of our hand; some of our most popular trips are by private train along the Trans-Siberian Railway, which runs right through Novosibirsk.

Unlike many Russian cities, Novosibirsk still has a Lenin Square as well as a Lenin statue
Photo credit: Eileen Bjorkman

(click on photo for larger version)

MIR’s Logistical WizardryOur MIR clients arrived by plane and train to this Siberian city where – at the time – there were limited facilities and accommodations. Some even overnighted in their private train cars. Hotels for such large numbers of travelers were scarce, but we booked 100 rooms for many of our MIR travelers in a newly remodeled hotel, which we had reserved three years earlier, hoping that renovations would be finished in time. It was a gamble, but it was one that definitely paid off; our total eclipse chasers were very satisfied.

A “total eclipse chaser” prepares for total darkness in Novosibirsk, Siberia
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

(click on photo for larger version)

An International ProductionIt took a dedicated international cast to pull it all off with this Novosibirsk total solar eclipse. We at MIR in Seattle and overseas worked in both English and Russian languages, sorting through complex visa requirements, wide-ranging arrival and departure times, and handling 10 different tour packages, each with its own unique itinerary. We began planning and working behind the scenes for this Siberian solar eclipse in 2005, with our tireless efforts paying off in a smooth execution of this 2008 celestial undertaking.  

Closer to HomeAs for me and my MIR team in our Seattle office, we don’t have to travel far for an upcoming total solar eclipse. On August 21, 2017, our neighboring state, Oregon, will be directly under the Path of Totality. In Seattle we’re expected to be in 92% darkness. It will be the first time a total solar eclipse has been visible in the Lower 48 since 1979, and the first time since 1918 that the eclipse will span both coasts of the United States. 

More on “MIR’s 30 Years”

Learn more about “MIR’s 30 Years” in the stories below, all embedded with videos. They include MIR’s beginnings and the mindset and mission of MIR’s president and co-founder, Douglas Grimes; MIR’s utterly unique travel offerings at the crossroads of Europe and Asia; and Siberia, one of MIR’s favorites specialties.

You can also view the video series of “MIR’s 30 Years” on MIR’s YouTube channel, , specifically under the playlist,

MIR’s Beginnings

MIR’s One-of-a-Kind Journeys

Siberia, A MIR Specialty

MIR, in a Nutshell

(Top photo credit: Douglas Grimes – Novosibirsk, Siberia is swathed in darkness at the apex of the  2008 total solar eclipse.)

PUBLISHED: November 3, 2016

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