Solar eclipseMore than 60 MIT travelers headed to Asia to witness today’s total solar eclipse from two vantage points: on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with MIT Professor of Physics Ed Bertschinger and Dishui Lake in China, near the shores of the East China Sea, with MIT Professor of Planetary Astronomy Richard Binzel.

But forecasted clouds in parts of China threatened to bar the Dishui Lake group from the rare occurrence. Dishui is a large, circular man-made lake with a wide promenade surrounding it, offering unobstructed views of the sky. The site is so good, even the CBS Evening News chose to capture the event there. Professor Binzel has reported in and luckily, Mother Nature was feeling generous. “The clouds thinned, just enough, minutes before totality!” he said. “Spectacular view of the eclipse, with thick clouds interfering for about one minute during the 5 minutes 43 seconds of totality. Forty minutes later, pouring rain.”

On July 22, the CBS Evening News aired footage of these MIT travelers and interviewed Binzel. Watch for strategic placement of the MIT flag in the background. And, check out a CNN.com article about the festivities that quoted Binzel.

The other group had clear weather and spectacular views of the eclipse. Its boat traveled to the coordinates 24 degrees, 12.2 minutes north and 144 degrees, 7 minutes east, the exact location of the center line of the path of totality, where the eclipse was to be the longest. They were likely the only group in the world to see the eclipse at its maximum duration of 6 minutes and 38.9 seconds. The group actually used the forward motion of the ship along the center line to push the length of totality a tenth of a second longer, to 6 minutes and 39 seconds.

Learn more about the MIT Alumni Travel Program and the solar eclipse trips to China and Japan that the MIT travelers are enjoying. And, read about the eclipse on the MIT News Office site.

id=5181312