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Preliminary Report on the December 4, 2021, Solar Eclipse Antarctic Expeditions

Presentation #332.09 in the session The Sun and Solar System II.

Published onJun 29, 2022
Preliminary Report on the December 4, 2021, Solar Eclipse Antarctic Expeditions

We give a preliminary report on results gathered from our three successful expeditions to the December 4, 2021, total solar eclipse, whose totality passed over Antarctica and adjacent ocean. One of our groups was on a chartered LATAM Boeing 787 Dreamliner that flew eastward from Punta Arenas, Chile at 41,000 ft (a second 787 was 1000 feet lower). Eastward of the Falkland Islands the aircraft turned southwest for a totality run as the upper of two planes with paths plotted by Glenn Schneider to observe totality a few degrees above the horizon out the left-hand windows from near the sunrise point. Our group carried cameras with telephotos and 3 spectrographs from Voulgaris (Icarus Optomechanics), and observed a measured 1 m 52 s of totality (07:22:35.1 to 07:04:26.6 UTC; middle of eclipse: 07:03:30.85 –56.167825°S –45.209159°W). We also worked with four people including Boris, Lockwood, and equipment, who flew to Union Glacier, on the Antarctic continent (Latitude –79.76, Longitude –82.85). In addition to astronomical equipment to image totality at an altitude of about 14° above the horizon, they sent back a livestream to NASA.gov and the NASA YouTube channel. Further, Rojo, a professor of astronomy at the University of Chile, joined the official expedition carried by the Chilean Air Force to spend two weeks on Union Glacier, Antarctica, conducting that expedition’s only astronomical observations. He carried Celestron, Sony, Canon, and Nikon telephotos; with Sony, Nikon, and Canon cameras, much of the equipment from Williams College; with filters by Questar and Thousand Oaks Optical; and an Icarus Optomechanics spectrograph from Voulgaris.

In addition, efforts by the AAS Eclipse Task Force’s Formal Education working group are on-going, in preparation for the annular 2023 and total 2024 solar eclipses.

JMP’s current research about eclipses is sponsored by grant AGS-1903500 of the Solar Terrestrial Program, Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences Division of the NSF, succeeding AGS-1602461 from the period of the 2017 eclipse. We thank Williams College for additional student expeditionary support from the Freeman Foote endowment. We thank Tim Todd of TEI Tours and Travel, for his travel arrangements; John Beattie for on-site arrangements, and Mark Sood of A Classic Tours Collection for additional assistance.

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