In two months, helium weather balloons will live stream an event we haven’t seen in nearly a century: A solar eclipse across the United States.
A total solar eclipse
Monday, August 21 is going to be an exciting day. According to NASA, for the first time in nearly a century, the entire U.S. will experience a solar eclipse, starting in Oregon and travelling across the country where it will end over South Carolina.
A solar eclipse is simply when the Earth, moon, and sun align and the moon completely blocks out the sun for several moments.
Live streamed from helium weather balloons
Dr. Angela Des Jardins of Montana State University is leading the Eclipse Ballooning Project, a collaboration of 55 colleges and high schools that will work to live stream the solar eclipse from high-altitude, helium weather balloons.
The helium weather balloons reach as high as 100,000 feet, which is outside of Earth’s atmosphere but not quite up to outer space. It’s technically the stratosphere, commonly and correctly called the “edge of space”.
Need to fill your own helium weather balloons for the solar eclipse (or maybe just supply your retail store)? Click here for a free helium quote right from your seat!
You may recognize some of our previous articles where students and entrepreneurs sent their own balloons up to the edge of space, usually with a camera attached and a GPS locator that allows them to track and recover their cameras once the balloons pop and come back down to the ground.
And these cameras always turn in some impressive shots, featuring the blackness of space above and the curved, brilliant Earth below.
It’s this view that the Eclipse Ballooning Project is interested in seeing — a view that humans have only ever seen once before, from an altitude of 120,000 feet over Australia in 2012. See that video below:
A world first from above the world
This will be the first time a solar eclipse has ever been live streamed from the stratosphere and there will be a lot of different videos to watch.
In collaboration with NASA and the Eclipse Ballooning Project, helium weather balloons will be launched from some 25 different locations across the United States.
NASA will be launching one of their helium weather balloons from an airfield in Mitchell, Nebraska.
Vanderbilt students will launch another from Nashville.
Where to watch, live from the helium weather balloons
You can watch the August 21 solar eclipse live from the helium weather balloons on the Eclipse Ballooning Project site, here.
You can also watch NASA’s live stream, here.
Whatever you do, don’t watch or look at the solar eclipse without the proper safety glasses! Otherwise, it will be the last thing you see. Here is a great safety and tips resource from NASA.