Chasing the Sun at 39,000 Feet – Sky & Telescope

Like a large tooth or claw, the eclipsed Sun seems simply after dawn over southern Ontario on Thursday, June 10th. Bob King / Sky & Telescope

Wow! I simply received again from seeing my first photo voltaic eclipse from the air. A spectacular tooth of daylight appeared moments after dawn; clouds adopted minutes later, then a flexing ring of daylight round the Moon. I shared these sights with 32 passionate eclipse chasers from round the nation, together with Delta Airlines representatives and the flight crew, on Sky & Telescope’s 2021 annular eclipse flight on the morning of Thursday, June 10th.

The eclipse individuals have fun with a gaggle photograph on the tarmac after the flight. Bob King / Sky & TelescopeAstronomer and veteran eclipse chaser Jay Pasachoff of Williamstown, Maryland, checks his cellphone previous to boarding the eclipse flight Thursday. Pasachoff has seen 35 whole photo voltaic eclipses and notched his 19th annular eclipse on June 10th. To mark the events, he has donned Sun-colored pants practically yearly since 1977. Bob King / Sky & Telescope

We departed Minneapolis on a Delta Airbus A319-100 shortly after three a.m. and headed for the path of annularity over southern Ontario. From a window I watched Jupiter and Saturn whereas flashes of lightning from thunderstorms under lit up the “sky” beneath us. We arrived inside the path of annularity forward of schedule, which netted us an opportunity to see the Sun rising whereas deeply incised by the Moon’s disk.

The Earth’s shadow is way extra hanging in the skinny, clear air at 38,000 ft, the place this photograph was taken. The darkish arch resembles an approaching storm entrance in the western sky shortly earlier than dawn. Bob King / Sky & Telescope

Pesky excessive clouds initially threatened to rob our view of a really low Sun. So, in a gambit to see as a lot of the eclipse as potential, expert Delta pilots Art Smith and Gary Beltz elevated the airplane’s altitude to its most — 39,000 ft. They additionally tilted the starboard wing downward by 5° to get it out of the approach, whereas sustaining a straight course.

The flight path of the annular eclipse flight.flightaware.comAll passengers had their very own window seats. Most, like Sarah Azizi of Philadelphia, who coincidentally was celebrating her 35th birthday the identical day, watched all of it by way of a secure photo voltaic filter.

“It moved me to tears. It felt like a cosmic communion.”

Ross Kessler offers his companion Sarah Azizi a kiss on her birthday after the eclipse flight. Both dwell in Philadelphia. Bob King / Sky & TelescopeOthers employed cautious and elaborate digicam setups utilizing off-the-shelf cameras and telephoto lenses to seize pictures of the Moon’s exceptional passage throughout the Sun.

Sitting in Row 1 of Sky & Telescope’s chartered jet, Eliot Herman captured this sequence of pictures earlier than, throughout, and after annularity (left to proper) on June 10, 2021.The cabin erupted in whoops and hollers when the horn of the crescent Sun first clawed its approach up out of a distant cloud financial institution. Rob Marciano, chief meteorologist for ABC News, sat in the seat behind me and couldn’t recover from how vibrant the Sun nonetheless appeared even when it was no thicker than an onion ring.

“It’s surreal to see it from an airplane,” Marciano mentioned. He surmised it was the easy proven fact that we have been above three-quarters of most of the environment. With little haze, water vapor, and air itself to filter the daylight the approach we see it from the floor, it rose blindingly vibrant and instantly required filtering for images.

Fred Walden of San Francisco presses his digicam up in opposition to a window to {photograph} the annular eclipse. It was his first eclipse flight and his first annular eclipse. Bob King / Sky & TelescopeOur deliberate route, rigorously calculated prematurely by eclipse-flight guru Glenn Schneider, supplied a beneficiant period of time to linger in the eclipse path. The Sun placed on a splendid present, whereas far under a thick blanket of clouds made me lose my bearings. Where have been we precisely? Once the Moon launched a 3rd of the Sun again into view, the airplane circled and commenced its return journey to Minneapolis. We cheered and clapped and celebrated our success with a champagne toast!

Eliot Herman of Tucson seems by way of his tackle the return to Minneapolis. He was particularly serious about recording the black drop impact — when the Moon’s limb seems to just about “touch” the Sun’s internal limb. Bob King / Sky & TelescopeAnthony Black, a spokesperson for Delta who joined our gang for his first eclipse, was caught up in the shared ardour and pleasure by the flight’s “community of people.”

“The enthusiasm was really refreshing. There was a sense of unity,” he mentioned. He added that at the airplane’s highest altitude, “I almost felt I was in outer space.”

Sky & Telescope Senior Editor Kelly Beatty stands with the two Delta Airlines pilots, Art Smith and Gary Beltz, who flew the chartered eclipse airplane. Just in case the first airplane skilled any hassle, a second jet (parked in the background) was fueled and able to fly. Bob King / Sky & Telescope After the toast, veteran “eclipsophile” Craig Small, who has labored at the Hayden Planetarium as an astronomer for 33 years, took out his embroidered “eclipse flag,” a flag with a complete eclipse design he or a proxy has taken to 34 whole eclipses since 1973. He and a pair of merry first-time eclipse-watchers marched the flag up and down the aisle of the airplane, a lot to the delight of the crowd.

Craig Small of New York’s Hayden Planetarium celebrates the eclipse with an embroidered “eclipse flag” that has traveled with him round the globe.Bob King / Sky & TelescopeThe View from the Ground

The workers of Sky & Telescope not on the airplane took full benefit of the partially eclipsed Sun rising over the Boston space.

S&T Editor in Chief Peter Tyson reviews, “I was out on the Charles River in my single scull. By the time the Sun rose above the surrounding trees, the glowing crescent appeared vertical, like the right side of a parenthetical. A thin layer of cloud strips enhanced the view, making the orangey-white Sun vaguely resemble Jupiter with its bands and zones.”

“Back at the dock, I watched the last bit of Moon depart the Sun, leaving it perfectly round — and leaving me already excited for the next eclipse.”

Editors Diana Hannikainen, Alan MacRobert, and Monica Young witnessed the partially eclipsed Sun rise above a mist-lined meadow northwest of the metropolis. As seen by way of eclipse glasses, the chimney of a distant farmhouse cut up the crescent because it broke by way of the clouds earlier than it rose absolutely into view. One of the youngest of the crew (6 years outdated) enthused, “That was so beautiful!”

Associate editor Sean Walker opted to see the eclipse from the shore of Lake Massabesic in Auburn, New Hampshire. “Low clouds on the horizon suggested I chose well,” Walker notes. “I would have missed the horns of the eclipsed Sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean had I driven all the way to the coast.”

The horn of the partially eclipsed Sun breaks by way of low clouds over Auburn, New Hampshire.Sean Walker“A scattering of a half dozen people anxiously awaited the sunrise,” he says. “We were not disappointed when the first horn of the partially eclipsed Sun peeked over the densest clouds around 5:15 a.m. Several joggers stopped by my setup to have a look at the progress on the LCD screen of my DSLR camera and took cellphone shots of the screen as keepsakes.”

The crescent Sun rises increased into the sky.Sean WalkerShare your experiences in the feedback under, and make sure you submit any photographs to Sky & Telescope’s on-line gallery!

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