Despite the pandemic, many people traveled for today’s (Dec. 4th, 2021) part of totality to see the spectacular total solar eclipse over Antarctica. Some were lucky to get on the “sixth continent”, others traveled via ship cruise in the Weddell Sea and around, the third group of eclipse chasers chose eclipse flight around 41000 feet above the ground, watching the narrow shadow and amazingly colored sky during the totality. This was also my case, traveling in one of two separate flights of B787-8 Dreamliners (the second one is on the image by the tip of the wing), parallelly floating the air in the shadow. Totality took about 2 minutes, bright Mercury and Antares were visible around the eclipsed sun. Amazing and unique was the eclipse because it, actually, occurred in the night (by 4 am local time) but over summer southern polar circle. What a spectacular and dramatic view! Used Canon 6D, Samyang 24mm, f3.5, ISO 640, 1/50s. Full credit: Petr Horálek/Institute of Physics in Opava.
Video: Total Solar Eclipse on Dec. 4, 2021 from 40 000 Feet
Enjoy also a video of the total solar eclipse and the lunar shadow at the same time captured 40 000 feet above the Southern Ocean from two opposite windows of CC-BBD B787-Dreamliner. For this video, we used two cameras, GoPro Hero 8 (eclipse) and GoPro Hero 7 (shadow), with the same settings so we could manage the final composition with the same brightness and colors in the video. Credit: Cătălin Beldea, Petr Horálek/Institute of Physics in Opava, Music: Stan Dart/ESO, Acknowledgement: Xavier Jubier.
During the flight I made it happen to capture both detail and wide-angle data to make a composite of the solar corona beyond its naked-eye visibility. Since longer exposures allow me to capture even bright stars, seems the whole Scorpius constellation appeared just in the lunar shadow as well as planets Mercury and Mars. This is the highest altitude I ever captured stars, around 41 000 feet. What a feeling! Canon 6D, Samyang 24mm, f2.0, ISO 400, vary exposures; Canon Ra, Tamron 70-200mm@200mm, f2.8, ISO 800, vary exposures. Stacked from 49 exposures in total. Full credit: Petr Horálek/Institute of Physics in Opava.
This is the best I could get from the Eclipse Flight window shooting. Despite lots of reflections, I was able to reveal some structures. Of course, some ground-based observations made by photographers in Union Glacier will bring real gems from this eclipse! For this shot, I made a series of different exposures just on board when the camera was stabilized. Note the halo around the eclipsed sun, which is caused by the average of all reflections. The image shows the most beautiful part of any total solar eclipse-the diamond ring. This time, caught above 41 000 feet above the ground. The solar corona is truly “wild”, especially on its left part where solar eruption was just about to burst and that was easily visible to naked eyes! Stars were digitally magnified, the brightest one is planet Mercury. The diamond ring was created artificially for the educational reasons according to the real diamond ring position (the real diamond ring photo was too much affected by reflections in the aircraft window). Used Canon Ra, Tamron 70-200@200mm, f2.8, ISO 800, stabilized; set of exposures 1/4000, 1/2000, 1/1000, 1/500, 1/125, 1/60, 1/25 – all exposures repeated 4times. Full credit: Petr Horálek/Institute of Physics in Opava.
Using data from NASA/ESA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, I also prepared composite images from LASCO C2 and C3 coronographs, and NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory AIA 171 camera, showing the solar activity at the time of the eclipse. It is visible the left upper edge (in fact, southwest) was pretty active as regions AR 2900 and AR 2898 were just by the edge of the solar disc. Actually, the activity was visible even to the naked eye as a very bright “pearl” in the inner solar corona.
I would like to acknowledge support for the eclipse expedition to the Eclipse Flight which was provided by Xavier Jubier, Maria Julieth Restrepo, Tim Todd, Thomas H. Puiza, Lars L. Christensen, and Ladislav Horák. The expedition was partially supported by the grant “Rozvoj VaV na SU, number CZ.02.2.69/0.0/0.0/18_054/0014696” of the Institute of Physics, the Silesian University in Opava.