SVE NEWS & SPACE.COM Sharing Series — In space and on Earth, where astronauts will view the April 8 solar eclipse

‘Things like this really makes spaceflight quite wonderful.’

Expedition 70 crew members Jeanette Epps, Tracy Dyson, Michael Barratt, Loral O'Hara and Oleg Kononenko model eclipse glasses ahead of the April 8 total solar eclipse over North America.

Expedition 70 crew members Jeanette Epps, Tracy Dyson, Michael Barratt, Loral O’Hara and Oleg Kononenko model eclipse glasses ahead of the April 8 total solar eclipse over North America (Image credit: NASA)

As a total solar eclipse crosses North America on Monday (April 8), seven of the 13 people currently in space will be in the right position to see the spectacle from Earth orbit.

At the same time, more than 30 other astronauts will be at locations in seven U.S. states and Canada to help the public understand and enjoy the experience.

“As you may know, NASA has scheduled a solar eclipse during our increment,” joked Expedition 70/71 astronaut Michael Barratt during a press conference held prior to his launch to the International Space Station in March. “Things like this really makes spaceflight quite wonderful.”

Barratt, along with his NASA astronaut crewmates Matthew Dominick, Jennette Epps and Tracy Caldwell Dyson, as well as Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko, Nikolai Chub and Alexander Grebenkin will have three chances to see the solar eclipse as the space station’s orbit takes them close to — but not into — the path of totality.

The first two passes will provide a view from above the Pacific Ocean and then over California and Idaho.

At its closest, the space station will be to the west of Labrador, Canada, north of Maine, from where a 94 percent partial eclipse will be directly overhead. Still, looking out from the orbiting laboratory’s windows and using the video cameras mounted on the outside of the station, the crew will be able to capture the shadow of the moon as it blankets part of the United States from 3:26 p.m. to 3:46 p.m. EDT (1926 to 1946 GMT).

Right (and wrong) place, right time

A 2013 photo shows the view from the International Space Station while off the west coast of Labrador, Canada, similar to where the Expedition 71 crew will be in place for a 94% solar eclipse. (Image credit: NASA)

The astronauts’ view on Monday will be of a more complete eclipse than what the Expedition 52 crew flew under in 2017, the last time that a total solar eclipse crossed the continental United States. Seven years ago, the then-six people living on the space station saw the eclipse over the course of three orbits. The passes progressed from a 38 percent partial eclipse to 43.9 percent and finally 85 percent of the moon blocking out the light from the Sun.

In the 63-year history of human spaceflight, 23 people have seen a total solar eclipse (as visible from Earth) from space. The Expedition 70 crew will bring that count to 30.

“We learned a lot with this last solar eclipse and there have been several that we have been able to photograph from both the Mir space station and International Space Station,” Barratt said, addressing a question from “The big difference now is the camera complement that we have. The imagery will be much more crisp [because] we have much more capable cameras on board.”

“We will stand ready on our very unique platform to capture it the best we can,” he said.

NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara, Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky and spaceflight participant Marina Vasilevskaya of the Belarus Space Agency will just miss seeing the eclipse, as they are returning to Earth on Saturday (April 6).

Three other people are and will be in space on Monday, though they will be in the wrong place to witness the eclipse.

Shenzhou 17 taikonauts Tang Hongbo, Tang Shengjie and Jiang Xinlin are slated to land from China’s space station later this month, but they will still be on board the Tiangong laboratory at the time of the eclipse. Unfortunately, their path around Earth will position them too far away from North America on Monday to catch a glimpse of either the moon passing in front of the Sun or the moon’s umbra cast down on the planet.

Astronaut appearances

“I saw an eclipse off in the distance on the North Atlantic from the ISS. It was spectacular, this large, dark spot slowly moving over the Earth. Surreal,” said former NASA astronaut Terry Virts in an interview with collectSPACE. “I’m glad I knew what it was before I saw it, because it was unlike anything I saw from space.”

“But I had the privilege of seeing the 2017 eclipse from Oregon and WOW! That was really much better than I had imagined,” said Virts, who has partnered with Sonic Drive-In to promote the chain’s limited edition “Blackout Slush Float” and safe eclipse viewing. “I highly recommend that you take the time to see this 2024 eclipse if you can. We won’t have another one for 20 years and I can say without a doubt seeing a total eclipse from Earth is an incredibly special experience.”

Terry Virts and his Expedition 42 crewmates witnessed the moon’s shadow (umbra) as a large, dark spot moving over Earth on March 20, 2015. Virts called the experience “surreal.” (Image credit: NASA)

Like Virts, who is heading to Fort Worth to be within the path of totality, more than two dozen former and current astronauts are traveling to locations from Texas to New York (and Canada) to be present for the eclipse and to help the public enjoy the occasion.

The following list is of astronaut appearances scheduled at eclipse watching events on April 8. It has been compiled from information provided by NASA and details published on the venues’ websites. It is organized by location in the order that the eclipse will progress, from southwest to northeast.

(Please note that some of these events required registration to attend. Please check with the venue of interest for more information. All times listed are local.)

More than 30 astronauts will be positioned at locations across the United States and in Canada to help the public understand and enjoy the astronomical sight. Among them, Stephen Bowen (at left) will be at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland. (Image credit: NASA)
  • Kerrville, Texas— Reid Wiseman, who is assigned to command NASA’s Artemis II mission, the first crewed flight to the moon since the Apollo program, will be available for a photo opportunity at 10:30 a.m. and deliver remarks at 12:45 p.m. as part of the Kerrville Eclipse Festival at Louise Hays Park
  • Burnet, Texas 

    — Ron Garan and Nicole Stott, both former NASA astronauts, will join Inspiration4 crew members Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski, as well as Blue Origin New Shepard passenger Chris Boshuizen and Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo passenger Christopher Huie at the Texas Eclipse Festival being held at Reveille Peak Ranch. Also scheduled to appear at the five-day event are Brendan Hall and Yemi A.D., two of the artists who were chosen to fly on billionaire Yusaku Maezawa’s private dearMoon mission around the moon.

  • Waco, Texas 

     Harrison Schmitt, the first geologist and 12th human to set foot on the moon, will take part in a panel discussion about the future of lunar exploration at 3:00 p.m. in the Hurd Welcome Center at Baylor University.

  • Dallas, Texas 

    — Jose Hernandez, a former NASA astronaut whose life story was told in the recent Amazon film “A Million Miles Away,” will deliver a talk and answer questions from children at 12:15 p.m. at the free eclipse watch party hosted at the AT&T Discovery District.— Alvin Drew, who in 2011 became the 200th person in history to conduct a spacewalk, will attend the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens’ Eclipse Weekend Space Expo. On Monday, he will meet & greet the public at 10:00 a.m. and join a panel discussion at 12:00 p.m.

    — Bill Gregory, who in 1995 flew as the pilot of the second space shuttle mission dedicated to astronomy, will be behind the controls again, this time of a private jet operated by JSX. Twelve passengers will join Gregory in the skies over Dallas for an aerial view of the eclipse.

  • Russellville, Arkansas 

     Mike Massimino, who serviced the Hubble Space Telescope and starred as himself on the CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” will deliver a 9:30 a.m. presentation on the stage at Depot Park.

  • Searcy, Arkansas 

    — Jerry Linenger, who survived a life-threatening five-month stay about Russia’s space station Mir, is the next speaker in American Studies Institute’s distinguished lecture series at Harding University. The 7:30 p.m. talk in Benson Auditorium will follow the eclipse.

  • Poplar Bluff, Missouri 

     Tom Akers, who was part of the first (and to date, only) three-person spacewalk in history, will give a 10:00 a.m. presentation in the Tinnin Fine Arts Center at Three Rivers College.

  • Oakland City, Indiana 

    Jerry Ross, who tied the record the most flights into orbit with seven shuttle missions, will sign copies of his book, “Spacewalker” at 4:30 p.m. at the Wirth Park Community Center as part of the Gibson County Eclipse Celebration.

  • Mitchell, Indiana 

     Joe Allen, who launched as a mission specialist on the first operational flight of the space shuttle and later helped deploy and retrieve communication satellites, will visit the boyhood home of Mercury astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom to meet the public beginning at 11:30 a.m..

  • Bloomington, Indiana 

     Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to fly into space, and William Shatner, who after commanding the fictional Starship Enterprise launched on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket, will both take the concert event’s stage at 1:00 p.m. for the Hoosier Cosmic Celebration at Indiana University’s Memorial Stadium.

  • Indianapolis, Indiana 

     NASA deputy administrator Pam Melroy will join her fellow NASA astronauts Drew Feustel, Mark Polansky and Megan McArthur, along with Blue Origin New Shepard crew member Audrey Powers and Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo crew members Sirisha Bandla and Beth Moses at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for an 10:00 a.m. STEM Symposium and a autograph session beginning at 11:30 a.m. panel discussion and 3:30 p.m. autograph session presented by Purdue University.

  • Fishers, Indiana 

     Mark Brown, who helped deploy UARS a satellite that studied Earth’s ozone layer before it fell back into the atmosphere in 2011, will join the eclipse festival at the Conner Prairie living history museum, giving a talk at 2:15 p.m..

  • Cleveland, Ohio 

     Steve Bowen, who recently served on the Expedition 68/69 crew aboard the International Space Station, will meet the public and sign autographs at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. in NASA Village, part of a Total Eclipse Fest at the Great Lakes Science Center.— Michael Foreman, a former NASA astronaut who is now serving his third term as the mayor of Friendswood, Texas, will make an appearance at 2:30 p.m. as part of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s eclipse watch party at Wade Oval.

  • North East, Pennsylvania 

     Warren “Woody” Hoburg, who served as pilot aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavour for the Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station, will make an appearance at the eclipse festival at Lake Erie Speedway.

  • Niagara Falls, New York

    Jeremy Hansen, who as a mission specialist on NASA’s Artemis II mission will become the first Canadian and first non-American to fly to the moon, will be available for photos at 10:00 a.m. at the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Welcome Center in Niagara Falls State Park during the “Through the Eyes of NASA” event.

  • Rochester, New York 

     Lee Morin, who helped install the first truss segment for the International Space Station prior to leading the rapid prototyping for the cockpit on NASA’s Orion spacecraft, will help “ROC the Eclipse” at 1:15 p.m. at the Rochester Museum & Science Center.

  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada 

     David Saint-Jacques, a Canadian Space Agency astronaut who has logged more than 200 days on the International Space Station, will speak at an “Eclipse of the Century” event beginning 2:00 p.m. at Parc Jean-Drapeau.

  • Florenceville-Bristol, New Brunswick, Canada 

     Chris Hadfield, the former Canadian Space Agency astronaut who famously covered David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” from aboard the International Space Station, will be at the Northern Carleton Civic Centre, just beyond the border with Maine, to deliver a presentation and view the eclipse.

For even more astronaut appearances, including at locations where only a partial eclipse will be visible, see the Sightings calendar on collectSPACE.

Sources from: FRANCE24.COM 

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