Two University of Hartford students and three professors are working with the NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium to live stream the total solar eclipse from Western Kentucky on Monday, Aug. 21. They and a group from the University of Bridgeport will launch an eight-foot tall helium-filled weather balloon to an altitude of up to 90,000. The balloon will carry a 12-pound payload consisting of a video camera to live stream the eclipse, a still camera, and GPS tracking system. This is part of a nationwide, NASA-sponsored initiative.
The Connecticut team will be based at West Kentucky Community Technical College in Paducah, Ky., near the spot in the U.S. where the eclipse is in totality for the longest amount of time. You can watch their stream on http://bit.ly/uharteclipse. Live viewing of the eclipse will also be available on NASA’s website, http://nasa.gov beginning at 12 noon EDT. Follow on social media using #Eclipse2017CT.
During a practice launch on UHart's campus on Aug. 9, UHart mechanical engineering major Mark Markiewicz ’18 said, “We’re testing today in preparation for the real event by following exact launch day procedures to trouble-shoot and anticipate any problems that might occur during those two minutes of darkness during the total eclipse. We also have to time it so that once the eclipse has passed, we can retrieve the balloon, which will have burst while the payload parachutes back to earth.”
Team member and UHart mechanical engineering major Stefan Keilich ‘18 said the idea that “hundreds of millions of people” will be watching the broadcast is thrilling and “makes the inherent pressure of the project worth it.”
NASA CTSGC, with UHart as its lead institution, is an affiliate of a federal grant, internship, and scholarship program funded as part of NASA's Office of Education designed to broaden the participation of universities and individuals in aerospace science, engineering, and technology.