Menzel, Seminar to See Sun's Eclipse by Plane

Donald H. Menzel, Paine Professor of Practical Astronomy, will take his 12-student Freshman Seminar and several University astronomers in a DC-6 Friday morning to watch the Boston area's first total eclipse of the sun in 300 years.

Menzel said the sun will rise in the Eastern horizon almost totally eclipsed at about 6:40 a.m. Friday morning; totality will occur five minutes later and last for one minute. A partial eclipse will then follow for about one hour, he said.

By getting up in a plane, Menzel explained yesterday, the group is "pretty well assured of getting above the early morning fog and haze." He called the project a "sensational opening schedule" to his seminar on the study of the sun and sunspots.

The group will take off from Logan International Airport at 6:15 a.m. in a plane provided by Northeast Airlines. Besides the students, various Observatory officials will make the trip. Menzel is director of the Observatory.

Menzel explained that a person could watch the eclipse by getting on any high spot and facing the Eastern horizon. Best locations, Menzel said, are Marblehead or Gloucester on the ocean or perhaps even Belmont Hill.


A high building or the Anderson Bridge might also do, but the observer should be certain he can see the Eastern sky clearly. Menzel suggested checking proposed locations some morning this week.

In addition, Menzel said, it was imperative for the observers to shade their eyes with something stronger than ordinary sunglasses--fog photographic film or smoked window glass (smoked by a candle in sunlight).

Remove Shade at Totality

At totality though, persons should remove their glasses or even use binoculars to see the full brilliance of the corona. Menzel said the eclipse can easily be photographed with an ordinary camera at f/6.3 at 1/25th, warning that most persons "overexpose these things badly."

At the Observatory on Garden St., staff member Hector Ingrao will try to photograph the eclipse with a 15-inch refractor.