OK, one more eclipse shot

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May 23 2012 1:28 PM

OK, one more eclipse shot

I've posted a lot of stuff about Sunday's annular eclipse (see Related Links below), and I figured I was done... but then I got a pretty remarkable picture sent to me.

During the eclipse, in northern California, two men sent a small (6 cubic meter) helium-filled balloon up to 90,000 feet (roughly 27 km). Equipped with a camera and an ingenious system that used puffs of gas to orient the payload, they took this pretty amazing shot of the eclipse:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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[Click to penumbrenate.]

That's the Earth on the left (duh), and on the upper right you can see the eclipsed Sun! They used a solar filter to cover half the camera's view so that they could get the correct exposure for both the Earth and the much brighter Sun.

I really enjoyed reading their story on how they set this up and executed it. I especially liked how they launched, sat around to watch the eclipse itself, then set off to find the balloon once it came back down (shredded after it popped at its lofty apex).

I love stuff like this! Basic equipment, clever people, and a can-do attitude results in something remarkable. Well done!

P.S. My friend and fellow Boulder astronomer Stuart Robbins posted a series of lovely timed sequences from the eclipse that he took in Albuquerque. It's well worth a click!



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