Chasing the Sun

Chasing the Sun

In August 2017 millions of people traveled from around the world to locations across the United States to watch a total solar eclipse of the sun. Many landed in central Idaho included a team of students from Montana State University who led a national effort, the Eclipse Ballooning Project, to film the eclipse from high-altitude balloons.

 

 High-altitude balloons take flight during a test launch Wednesday, June 22, 2017 near Rexburg, Idaho. 

High-altitude balloons take flight during a test launch Wednesday, June 22, 2017 near Rexburg, Idaho. 

 Montana State University students track high-altitude balloons after a test launch Wednesday, June 22, 2017 near Rexburg, Idaho.

Montana State University students track high-altitude balloons after a test launch Wednesday, June 22, 2017 near Rexburg, Idaho.

 Students with the Montana State University Eclipse Ballooning Project team recover a payload after a June test flight in the foothills of the Teton Mountains in Eastern Idaho.

Students with the Montana State University Eclipse Ballooning Project team recover a payload after a June test flight in the foothills of the Teton Mountains in Eastern Idaho.

 The State of Idaho spent years preparing for millions of estimated visitors to the region for the eclipse.

The State of Idaho spent years preparing for millions of estimated visitors to the region for the eclipse.

 A Montana State University engineering student prepares a camera array that would analyze polarization of the sky during the total solar eclipse.

A Montana State University engineering student prepares a camera array that would analyze polarization of the sky during the total solar eclipse.

 Amateur astronomers gather in the shadow of the Tetons on the eve of the total solar eclipse.

Amateur astronomers gather in the shadow of the Tetons on the eve of the total solar eclipse.

 Members of the MSU team work into the night on final preparations for the launch of high-altitude balloons at the Camas National Refuge on the eve of the eclipse.

Members of the MSU team work into the night on final preparations for the launch of high-altitude balloons at the Camas National Refuge on the eve of the eclipse.

 As the sun rises over the MSU team's launch site, team members Katherine Lee, left, and Darci Collins prepare a camera system they designed to capture images of the sun's atmosphere during the eclipse.

As the sun rises over the MSU team's launch site, team members Katherine Lee, left, and Darci Collins prepare a camera system they designed to capture images of the sun's atmosphere during the eclipse.

 Members of MSU's balloon launch team watch the sun through solar scopes.

Members of MSU's balloon launch team watch the sun through solar scopes.

 A latex balloon undulates and lifts off the ground as the MSU team fills it with helium. The team launched three balloons in roughly an hour before the eclipse so that cameras and other equipment they carried would reach the desired altitude during totality.

A latex balloon undulates and lifts off the ground as the MSU team fills it with helium. The team launched three balloons in roughly an hour before the eclipse so that cameras and other equipment they carried would reach the desired altitude during totality.

 A visitor to the Camas National Wildlife Refuge experiments with his solar glasses before eclipse totality.

A visitor to the Camas National Wildlife Refuge experiments with his solar glasses before eclipse totality.

 An image captured through a telephoto lens reveals solar eclipse features known as Bailey's Beads and the Diamond Ring effect.

An image captured through a telephoto lens reveals solar eclipse features known as Bailey's Beads and the Diamond Ring effect.

 Members of a team from the University of Brasilia react to the moment of eclipse totality.

Members of a team from the University of Brasilia react to the moment of eclipse totality.

 A composite photograph shows phases of the eclipse with the moment of totality revealing plasma surrounding the sun known as the corona.

A composite photograph shows phases of the eclipse with the moment of totality revealing plasma surrounding the sun known as the corona.