Part 1: Getting There
My 21st Solar Eclipse Expedition
My 14th Total Eclipse of the Sun
My first Total Eclipse from a plane!
We check in about 6am for our special flight to totality. There are over 15 eclipse flights today!
Veteran chasers get boarding passes after years of planning.
Pretty stoked to see my 21st eclipse!
This is my first trip to a Point that doesn’t exist!
eclipseguy with Glenn Schneider from The Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona. Glenn is the Project Lead – he makes the calculations for our Totality Run: the aircraft’s interception of the Moon’s umbra. He’s seen 32 Total Solar Eclipses!
Part 2: The Set Up
This is the Boeing 737-800 taking us to 37,000 ft.
High tech stabilization techniques!
Frame Grabs from the Video
Look how much room we have! I love flying like this.
Chasers invent all kinds of specialized gear to shoot totality from up here. The restraints are considerable!
Part 3: Begin Totality Run
Over a lifetime of eclipse chasing, it’s not uncommon to have a few eclipses that are missed because of bad weather or equipment failure or any of the other contingencies that fall under Murphy’s Law. And I have been very lucky! I always see the eclipse and my shots always turn out. But I am a little disappointed with my images from the GoPro camera I mounted at the window in Row 12. Ice Crystals built up as we climbed higher and drew closer to totality. By our Totality Run, there was almost no space on the window that didn’t look like I was shooting through a heavy sprinkling of icing sugar. Gulp. As a result, the images are all dirty – something we tried hard to avoid by cleaning the windows thoroughly on the ground. But they are all I’ve got! Still, the incredible and almost frightening approach of the Moon’s shadow from behind us is still discernible.
At 37,000 ft. above the North Sea between Norway and Iceland, the aircraft positions itself precisely in the same direction of travel as the advancing umbral shadow that is being projected on to the Earth by the eclipsing Moon.
As totality nears, you can clearly see the darkening on the horizon to the south as the monstrous, dark shadow of the Moon races to engulf us from behind.
At the precise moment predicted, the advancing edge of the Moon’s shadow is projected on to the Earth at our location. Totality begins! And a full set of goosebumps to boot!
At mid-totality, the curved aspect of the shadow is evident as it extends through the sky.
Traveling at about 3,000 kph., the Moon’s shadow inevitably overtakes us, and the trailing edge of the shadow cone can now be seen beneath us.
Totality ends with the reappearance of the Sun’s photosphere, and the trailing edge of the umbra can be seen racing off towards Svalbard and the North Pole.
Part 4: End Totality Run
My frame-grab of the Diamond Ring that starts totality!
Mid-Totality and the corona at its peak.
When its over its time for champagne and the unveiling of Craig Small’s eclipse flag, a sign that bodes well for clear skies at the next eclipse!
A most curious flight plan! The straight edge of the flight path to the west was our Totality Run.
The team that made it happen on 20 March 2015.
Chris Malicki shared Row 12 with me and got this great image.
There were scores of great images and videos to come out of this eclipse – from the air and from land. Check out these additional reports from chasers around the world.
Thomas Bujack Report Thanks for the pictures!
Wanna come eclipse chasing? See where we are headed next.