Eclipse flight was worth it for photographer

  • Solar Eclipse above the Atlantic as seen from a plane at 43,000 feet and 600 miles southeast of Bermuda.

    Solar Eclipse above the Atlantic as seen from a plane at 43,000 feet and 600 miles southeast of Bermuda.
    (Photo by Ben Cooper of Launch Photography.)

A Florida photographer who took part in a chartered flight to catch a brief glimpse of a solar eclipse hailed the experience as “spectacular”.

Ben Cooper, from Daytona Beach, was one of a dozen people who chartered a jet to fly 300 miles off Bermuda on Sunday to catch a glimpse of a total eclipse over the Atlantic.

Speaking to The Royal Gazette, Mr Cooper said: “I only found out about this eclipse flight a couple of months ago, as a small group decided to organise it and try to intercept this super short eclipse. There have been eclipse flights before, but never this short and risky.”

Typically flights aiming to watch an eclipse fly along the path of the eclipse and wait for it to “catch up” with the plane, however in this case the plane was travelling at a 90 degree angle from the path of the eclipse, meaning that timing had to be perfect.

Fortunately for the passengers on Sunday’s flight, the timing was spot on.

Mr Cooper said: “It was amazing, just spectacular. This was such a fast eclipse, it was really an adrenalin rush to the last second.

“We were not sure if we would see it from the plane until it happened, it was very close. The plane had to be in a specific spot at a specific second.”

While he said he didn’t want to disclose the cost of the flight, he said it was divided among the 12 passengers — and that it was worth it.

“Eclipses are spectacular and many people go far and wide, all over the world to see them,” he said. “They are somewhat rare ... only visible in a narrow path on earth, and they only happen once every one to two-and-a-half years.”

Solar eclipses occur when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. Sunday’s eclipse was a rare hybrid eclipse which transitioned between being a total eclipse, in which the moon completely blocks out the sun, and an annular eclipse in which a halo of sunlight remains visible around the shadow of the moon.

According to NASA the greatest total eclipse occurred over the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 205 miles southwest of Liberia, lasting for more than a minute.

The eclipse was also visible in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. In Bermuda, a partial eclipse was visible with the moon blocking as much as 85 percent of the sun.

The next total solar eclipse will take place on March 20, 2015.

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Published Nov 5, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 5, 2013 at 12:17 am)

Eclipse flight was worth it for photographer

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