Mir Sees Eclipse
from Outer Space
Roger Herzler (photo (c) CNES)
got an unprecidented view of the August 11, 1999 total solar eclipse
that traveled across Europe. This is just down-right exciting, hence
the posting here. The photo was taken by spationaut Jean-Pierre
Haigneré and the copyright is held by CNES. Clear skies!
been asked what those two "objects" are in the top left
corner of the image. Some suggestions include space junk or even
stars. After some postulating and investigating by myself and other
folks on the Astro List, a case has been made that they are the
planets Jupiter and Saturn. According to CNES (the French space
agency) this photo was taken by the French spationaut on board Mir
at exactly 10h13m Universal Time. That puts the eclipse at around
50N 05W (latitude & longitude), or in the head waters of the
English Channel. When the appropriate times and locations are entered
into SkyMap (and other planetarium packages from folks on the Astro
List) both Jupiter and Saturn are right on the money for that shot.
In addition, Bill
Arnett of the Astro List made this observation:
Mir was above France's Massif Central. When I tell Starry Night
to put me at that time and place I clearly see the English channel
and, sure enough, Jupiter and Saturn in the correct orientation
above the horizon and the Moon shadow."
while its not conclusive (only the photographer might know for sure),
a good case can be made that the two objects in the frame are in
fact Jupiter and Saturn, both of whom were (and still are) bright
enough in our skies to take a good photograph of.