Chasing the Moon's Shadow

On July 11, thirty people set a world record when they observed a total eclipse for over 9 minutes. What's so special about that? Well, the longest anyone can observe an eclipse is just over 7 minutes, and this one would have only lasted about 5 minutes had they been on Earth. Actually they were racing through the sky in a plane, parallel to the lunar path.
The plane made a right-angle turn to intercept the moon’s shadow at about 9:15 a.m. At the moment of totality, the plane fell quiet.

“Normally on the ground there’s a lot of screaming, oohing and aahing, and a lot of noise going on, but for some reason it was very quiet in the plane,” Brown said. “People were astounded.”

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. Brown said the team is submitting a DVD to the Guinness Book of World Records.

The image above is a composite of five pictures from the flight (Glenn Schneider and Rick Brown). As stated, the record set was for non-experimental, non-military aircraft- an early supersonic Concorde chased the shadow for 74 minutes in 1973.


Previously, an even more stunning Composite Picture of a Solar Eclipse.

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