Tag Archives: Moon

Moments Before the Eclipse

An eclipse is far and away the most powerful and stunning of all the celestial phenomena.  Seeing the sun’s corona is a life-changing experience.  But in the seconds leading up to totality, there will be plenty more to see… if you know where to look.  In anticipation on the August 21st solar eclipse, I sat down with Mark Bender – filmmaker, eclipse chaser, and director of our original series, Eclipse Across America – and asked what advice he would give to our readers before the event.

Mark Bender, Eclipse Chaser

Train your eyes for darkness

It may sound crazy, but if you are looking to heighten the experience even more, blindfold yourself for an hour before totality.  Remember, the totality only lasts for just over 2 minutes.  It would take your eyes more than that to really adjust to the darkness.  Think of walking into a dark movie theater: at first, you can’t see a thing, but as your eyes adjust, the steps and seats become more clear.  Imagine having your eyes fully adjusted to darkness for the entire time of totality.  What you see will be even more stunning!

Look out for shadow bands

Right before totality, some very lucky eclipse watchers may see the shadow bands.  I thought they were just a myth, until I got lucky one time.  Right before a total eclipse, little snake-like shadows from the moon crossing the sun appear to be slithering and shimmering across the ground.  But they are so faint, the contrast has to be just right to see them.  Some people will lay down a large white sheet to try to catch sight of them.  In 2015, I saw the eclipse in Svalbard, Norway, just 800 miles from the North Pole.  I was standing on a landscape covered with ice – just like an enormous white sheet.  And there they were!  It’s all about being at the right place at the right time.

Keep an eye on the forecast

Some of the biggest surprises are often weather-related.  During the eclipse of 1999, I was watching in Cornwall, England.  It was a completely overcast and rainy day.  Leading up to the eclipse, you couldn’t see the sun at all.  Three minutes before totality, the sun started to peak though, and with one minute to go, clouds dissipated and the entire sky opened up.  We lucked out, but the best was yet to come.  Even though the rain had stopped, there was still so much water vapor in the air.  When the sun eclipsed, the corona was full of tiny rainbows!  Imaging seeing the stunning corona in full color!  I have never seen that since, but anything is possible.  You just don’t know how it will play out.

Stay aware of wild animals

Animals in the wild take their behavioral cues from the Sun and the Moon, and the eclipse will affect that for sure.  Watching the 2012 annular eclipse in West Texas, wolves started howling as darkness fell…and I won’t admit to joining in!  Just remember, if they think it is nightfall, then you’re a visitor in their space until the Sun re-emerges.

It may get emotional

Above all, I am most fascinated by human behavior during a total eclipse.  Tears, shouts of joy, stunned silence, experienced astronomers and scientists stuttering with a total loss of words.  There is truly no way to describe it.

 

Watch the Eclipse Across America series trailer here:

All four episodes of Eclipse Across America are available now in Ultra HD 4K, only on CuriosityStream.

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Moon Man… Or Woman?

What do you get when you lock 6 female, Russian cosmonauts in a mock spaceship for over a week? The answer: an experiment further drawing attention to Russia’s growing interesting a lunar landing. The Russian Federal Space Agency announced that a mission to the moon is planned for 2029. And as part of that effort, a crew of 6 Russian women just emerged from an 8-day mock spaceflight, the first test of its kind featuring an all-female crew. Each of the six volunteer scientists has a background in medicine or biophysics. They performed over 30 experiments during the simulated flight, and dealt with curveballs including bad weather simulations that delayed their “re-entry” by a day. Russia is taking a page from its own history books. The first woman in space was from the Soviet Union. Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshlova spent almost 3 days in orbit in 1963, at the height of the US-Soviet space race.

Of course, the Unites States put the first humans on the moon. July 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface as the dramatic moment beamed live around the world. The mission is still referred to as one of mankind’s greatest technological achievements.

The Smithsonian’s Dr. Roger Launius, formerly NASA’s chief historian, paints a picture of Apollo 11’s extraordinary crew, and tells the story behind those famous words etched in the history books.

For the complete history behind all of NASA’s Moon Missions, from Apollo 1 to Apollo 17, search for Moonshots on CuriosityStream . For the first time, see the dramatic events in 4K and HD original footage taken by the astronauts during the most iconic space voyages in history.

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