What It’s Like Watching a Solar Eclipse From a Plane

Airplanes provide a unique view for solar eclipses. Glenn Schneider, who has observed seven eclipses from the air, shares his experiences.

Schneider, an eclipse chaser who has witnessed 31 total solar eclipses (and two annular eclipses), dodges bad weather and other nonideal viewing conditions by taking to the air in a commercial plane, rising above the clouds to see the rare events from the air. Most of the time, he hunts total solar eclipses, with the occasional annular solar eclipse thrown in for good measure.

“You have a combination of things that is really working to your advantage [from the air],” Schneider told Space.com. Those factors include the abilities to rise above the weather and to get a clearer view of the sun’s features without the distorting effects caused by most of the atmosphere, he said. And then there’s the completely different perspective an airplane allows. [Where to See the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse, State by State]

“The magnificent view of the lunar shadow as it sweeps over the Earth seen from on high looking down rather than standing on the ground looking up, it has a very different feel to it,” Schneider said. “It’s those sort of combinations of things that are sort of unique when you put it all together from aircraft.”

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