Space station crew to get three shots at solar eclipse

The International Space Station’s crew will enjoy views of the Aug. 21 solar eclipse during three successive orbits, giving the astronauts a unique opportunity to take in the celestial show from 250 miles up as the moon’s shadow races across from the Pacific Ocean and the continental United States before moving out over the Atlantic.

“Because we’re going around the Earth every 90 minutes, about the time it takes the sun to cross the U.S., we’ll get to see it three times,” Randy Bresnik said Friday during a NASA Facebook session. “The first time will be just off the West Coast, we’ll actually cross the path of the sun, and we’ll have (a partial) eclipse looking up from the space station.”

For the station crew, the first partial eclipse opportunity will begin at 12:33 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) and end 13 minutes later.

Floating in the European Columbus laboratory module, Bresnik showed off a solar filter shipped up to the station earlier, saying “we’ve got specially equipped cameras that’ll have these solar filters on them that allow us to take pictures of the sun. That’s going to be pretty neat, we’ll have a couple of us shooting that.”

Space station astronaut Randy Bresnik shows off a solar filter that will be used by the crew during multiple opportunities to photograph the Aug. 21 solar eclipse from their perch 250 miles up.

NASA TV

One orbit later, the station will cross the path of the eclipse in the extreme northwest following a trajectory that will carry the lab over central Canada on the way to the North Atlantic. From the station’s perspective, 44 percent of the sun will be blocked in a partial eclipse. But the crew will be able to see the umbra, where the eclipse is total, near the southern horizon.

“We’ll be north of Lake Huron in Canada when we’ll be able to see the umbra, or the shadow of the eclipse, actually on the Earth, right around the Tennessee-Kentucky…

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