1st ever total solar eclipse from Antarctica shot

Written by By, Peter Maack, for CNN A few weeks back CNN Travel got a chance to give a first-hand view of an extreme and incredible phenomenon: the total solar eclipse from Antarctica. It…

1st ever total solar eclipse from Antarctica shot

Written by By, Peter Maack, for CNN

A few weeks back CNN Travel got a chance to give a first-hand view of an extreme and incredible phenomenon: the total solar eclipse from Antarctica. It was the only visible route from the US mainland to Antarctica. It happened on April 8, and the footage captured is fantastic.

Why is Antarctica a spot to be? According to Andrew Schrad, director of the University of Hertfordshire’s Centre for Polar Research, the region’s free access to the sun also makes it the ideal place to watch a total solar eclipse. Unlike other places, no sky diving or boating ban applies.

Each solar eclipse cycles, and, one can expect a total solar eclipse every two years, typically in spring or autumn. However, sometimes there are four total solar eclipses in one year, as has been the case in 2015-2016.

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Not all eclipses are created equal, and some are different from others. When NASA & the British Antarctic Survey set out to capture one of these, they found that the fall of August to September was a perfect time. At this time, the land and sea in the area are shadowed by the Moon and dust from the west coast of South America.

Schrad, in Antarctica working on his book “Infinite Daylight,” had to fight tough terrain to bring one of the eclipse cameras to the region. Everything came together in the final moments, in the most extreme conditions and under the greatest pressure in his life.

The Sony CX400 totally solar eclipse camera we used to photograph the total solar eclipse of April 8, 2020. Credit: Ministry of Defence

The result? While little more than a little rainfall later on April 8 caused some cloud coverage across the map of Antarctica, within that space it took on the image of totality. It was the best total solar eclipse in history, Schrad claims.

“In the UK we usually have other sights like the sun being eclipsed by the moon in the sky. What we really wanted to do was capture the moon blocking out the Sun from the Earth,” Schrad says.

Related content Scenes from our solar eclipse shoot

When Schrad and his team left a week before totality, the area looked like a lunar landscape of saturated red ochre. In totality, the foreground was mostly in the darkest part of the sun as the sky turned black. At the edge of the eclipse the moon shadow moved across the land for a total lunar eclipse, then dropped toward the ocean at its close.

As long as the map of the land is in darkness, the sun will come and go (on the ground).

“When the earth is at its coldest, this happens in autumn, and October and November, just when the ground gets dry enough and covered in dark sand and in late spring and early summer, you get a re-occurrence,” Schrad says.

“You get the sunlight and the darkest part of the sun. It’s a pretty cool effect.”

Learn more about the eventual return of the sun at the time of the solar eclipse of May 20, 2021.

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