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Eclipse shadow chasing

In Read, View, Watch on July 27, 2010 at 7:42 am

Earlier this month there was a total eclipse of the sun.  It happened on July 11, though it was only visible over the southern Pacific Ocean.  This image is of the eclipse as seen from Easter Island:

Solar eclipse from Easter Island.  Photo by Stephane Guisard.  Click for hi-res.

Solar eclipse from Easter Island. Photo by Stephane Guisard. Click for hi-res.

Wired has the story of a plane full of observers who chased the eclipse from the air as it was happening to extend the amount of time spent in the moon’s shadow:

A few minutes before totality, the plane turned to face the approaching lunar shadow head-on. Schneider and his colleagues watched the shadow zoom toward the plane from a hundred miles away, engulfing the clouds below in darkness.

The plane flew along with the shadow at 500 miles per hour, about a third of the shadow’s speed across the Earth’s surface. At that speed, the time in totality stretched from the 5 minutes, 20 seconds visible from the ground to 9 minutes, 23 seconds. It was the longest totality ever observed from a non-experimental and non-military aircraft.

This would be great to see in person.  Here’s video of the eclipse from Argentina.  You can see the shadow cruise across the sky from left to right, especially if you let the whole thing load, then manually drag the video controller through the eclipse.

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