Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona on June 30, 1973 · Page 7
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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona · Page 7

Phoenix, Arizona
Issue Date:
Saturday, June 30, 1973
Page 7
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Page 7 article text (OCR)

to race sun in eclipse York Times Service /ABOARD SS CANBERRA- During today's total eclipse of the sun, more ideally suited for scientific observations thatr any that will occur in the next 177 years, France's Concorde supersonic trans- * port with special windows cut in its roof will race the lunar shadow across Africa. The swift flight of this^plane almost keeping pace with the centerpoint of the fleeting shadow will for the first time make possible prolonged ob. servations of the sun's dynamic envelope or c6rona. With American and British "as well as' French scientists aboard the Concorde, they should be able to keep its many sky-gazing instruments within the moon's shadow for one hour and 20 minutes. ;( The longest time within the .^area of total eclipse on the "'ground will be seven minutes ' f and four seconds. , ,,,Aboard the Concorde, as :• jwefi as in coordinated obser- ...yations elsewhere, special attention will be focused on one of the most important — and ? least understood — energetic * processes in the solar system. This is the manner in which heat is carried from the sun .up "through its relatively cool lower atmosphere or chromo- sphere into the upper atmosphere of the sun — its glowing corona, visible only when the sun is eclipsed. The temperature of the corona is In millions of degrees Fahrenheit compared to tens of thousands of degrees in the chromosphere below it. With their unprecedentedly long view of the corona, scientists on the Concorde : will look for evidence of motions that might help explain . ; this energy transfer. ', A route has been charted -•'for the plane that it is hoped will spare from the damaging ^effects of a sonic boom the t numerous instruments set up | along the eclipse path by & thousands of professional and I amateur astronomers'. I The Concorde will be flying I at some 1,260 miles an hour $ at.' 55,000 feet and will overtake an Air Force NC-135 | similar to a Boeing 707 flying * at 39,000 feet. * When the moon's shadow is * largest — some 161 miles ', wide in the region where .) Mali, Algeria and Niger come ! together — it will behoving | at its slowest pace and the 4 speed of the supersonic trans- J port should be only about 40 \ miles an hour slower than 'I that of the shadow. This is * the region on the ground < where the time of totality is 3 longest. < For about 20 minutes the \ plane, flying at about Macli 2 ;J — that is, twice the speed of > sound — should drop back 3 only about 15 miles, remain* ing quite close to the shad-, > ow's center. According to scientists who will perform coordinated experiments on this ship, sever- fjal windows have been cut in the roof of the Concorde so that i n s t r u m e n t s can be aimed straight up at the eclipse, which will be close to the zenith over Central Africa. One window a foot in diameter is fitted with material that, unlike glass, permits passage of infra-red as well as visible light. To hold photographic instruments steady enough to record fine details of the corona, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has provided a gyro-stabilized platform to be carried by the plane. The Concorde will take off from Us Palma? in the Canary Islands and should intercept, the shadow as it crosses Mauritania on the Atlantic Coast and stay with it as far as Chad in Central Africa. The Air Force plane, laden with scientists and instruments from the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico, will take off from Madrid and refuel at Niamey in Niger. A Los Alamos scientist also will be making observations from the Concorde and another will do so aboard this ship. The laboratory is run by the University of Call' fornia for the Atomic Energy Commission. For 7 hours and 14 minutes, the shadow of the moon will race from the border region between Brazil and Guyana across the Atlantic and Africa until it lifts from the earth in the Indian Ocean—a total distance of 9,200 miles. A partial eclipse will be visible from north eastern South America, southern Europe, Arabia, southern India and all of Africa except the extreme south. 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