Historic flights will track solar eclipse

Nov. 20, 2003 at 3:34 PM

MELBOURNE, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Passengers on two chartered aircraft will get first-hand views of a total solar eclipse from high above Antarctica Sunday.

University of Arizona astronomer Glenn Schneider helped plan the aircraft intercepts of the Nov. 23 total solar eclipse, which won't be completely visible from land anywhere else on Earth.

No one has ever seen a total solar eclipse from over the Antarctic.

One of the aircraft will carry solar-eclipse chasers, scientists, photographers, amateur astronomers and tourists on a 14-hour, non-stop, roundtrip flight out of Melbourne, Australia.

Schneider has worked with Qantas pilots for several years in planning the special flights. He will assist the crew in navigating the plane through the moon's shadow during 'totality', when the moon entirely blocks the sun.

Passengers in the aircraft might see totality for as long as 2 minutes, 36 seconds, depending on wind conditions, compared to less than 2 minutes that totality will be visible at ground sites. The eclipse occurs at 5:40 p.m. Eastern time.

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