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Earth Transportation Technology

How Astronomers Used the First Concorde Prototype To Chase a Total Eclipse (vice.com) 55

tedlistens writes: On Wednesday, a solar eclipse gave people across a swath of Indonesia and the South Pacific the chance to see a generous 4 minutes and 9 seconds of totality: the awe-inspiring sight of the moon completely covering the sun, turning day into night and offering a rare glimpse of the corona, the gas swirling in the Sun's outer atmosphere. But in 1972, a small group of astronomers from around the globe sought a way for seeing a longer eclipse than ever before: a prototype Concorde, capable of chasing the eclipse for a whopping 74 minutes across the Sahara Desert, at twice the speed of sound.
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How Astronomers Used the First Concorde Prototype To Chase a Total Eclipse

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is this a new Slashdot record for "old news?"

    • No, it works on the binary system.

      A article is posted:
      the same day as the event
      the next day
      4 days after the event
      8 days
      16 days
      32 days
      and so on...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Did anyone else notice the messed up geography? Author says the Atlantic is east of Tenerife, and that the shadow traveled westward from South America to the coast of Africa.

      • Well, to the east of Tenerife is water, which could be called the Atlantic ocean, and if you fly west in a aircraft like the concorde, you would eventually get to the coast of Africa...

  • SOFIA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chrisaj5 ( 733884 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @10:27PM (#51670009)
    A much more modern version of this is NASA's SOFIA [nasa.gov] aircraft. It observes in infrared with a large telescope. I worked on SOFIA, but had never heard of this! Incredible... even though the results were meh, that ride must have been amazing. I hope the visual portholes were good!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Rod Stewart would travel from London to NY on the Concorde, EVERY WEEK, just to have his hair styled.

  • by gweilo8888 ( 921799 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @11:35PM (#51670163)
    ... was just how freaking huge the Sahara Desert is, that one could fly over it in the same direction non-stop for that long at twice the speed of sound without reaching the end!!!
  • What a majestic lady she was with a roar of a lion to match it.
  • Isaac Asimov wrote about following the eclipse in an airplane in a mystery / sci-fi story, The Backward Look. This was published in Casebook of the Black Widowers in 1980, and maybe in some magazines before then.

    The story itself isn't one of Asimov's best; there's a convoluted story-within-the-story that features the eclipse chasing. But that mental image has stuck with me over the years. Never knew what it was based on, until now.

  • At precisely 10:08 am on the morning of June 30, the four twin-spool Olympus 593 engines under the Concorde’s sweeping white wings powered up to full afterburner and launched “001” down the runway of Tenerife’s Las Palmas airport. Thousands of miles to the east, the shadow of the moon was already racing across the Atlantic at over 1,200 mph, as the eclipse shadow sped westward from South America toward the African coast.

    I didn't realize that Africa was westward from South America. I mean, I guess it is if you go the long way, but I don't think that's what happened here.

    • At precisely 10:08 am on the morning of June 30, the four twin-spool Olympus 593 engines under the Concorde’s sweeping white wings powered up to full afterburner and launched “001” down the runway of Tenerife’s Las Palmas airport. Thousands of miles to the east, the shadow of the moon was already racing across the Atlantic at over 1,200 mph, as the eclipse shadow sped westward from South America toward the African coast.

      I didn't realize that Africa was westward from South America. I mean, I guess it is if you go the long way, but I don't think that's what happened here.

      It's not a geography lesson. It's an astronomy lesson! The path of the moon's shadow is travelling westward.

  • by rayan ( 960383 ) on Thursday March 10, 2016 @09:58AM (#51671347)
    I walked through this Concorde at Le Bourget airport a few months ago. The thing that stunned me was mentioned in the article: they hit their tracking start point, a point in space above Africa, at Mach 2 within *1 second* of plan on manual flight controls. One of the posters at the exhibit described how the pilot would adjust the speed at different points prior to rendezvous in order to track to plan. This was done by hand in 1972. With all the tech today we could only be 1 second better. That's pretty impressive.

"I say we take off; nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure." - Corporal Hicks, in "Aliens"

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