Photographing the Solar Eclipse with a twist: The world’s largest passenger plane.

I was not planning on spending too much time, or thought, on today’s Solar Eclipse, due to a wrist fracture that I sustained covering the controversial protests on Boston Common two days ago. I decided I would try to set up my heavy gear in my Winthrop,MA driveway. With some help from my neighbor Ron, my set up of a Canon 800mm lens and a large tripod was complete with seconds to spare before the solar show. Stuart Cahill, a colleague of mine at the Boston Herald newspaper, had already made me an improvised solar filter for my large lens, and I had already obtained nerdy solar glasses for my eyes. I was amazed at how good the filter worked on my lens. I started to shoot photos every 4 minutes, or so, and was excited with what I had. There was one thing that I really wanted, though. I had expected that there would be an opportunity to get a high altitude airliner through the sun, or more correctly stated, through my view of the sun. I was not disappointed, though it came very late in the eclipse, and did just barely sneak into my view of the sun. I watched as one after another high altitude airliner, most flying from Europe to NYC, just missed the sun. I remember thinking that I wished air traffic controllers in Nashua,NH., would turn them just a little for me. It was getting late and clouds and haze were moving in front of my view of the sun. I noticed the flight tracking systems that I use, flightradar24 and planefinder, were showing an Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane, over the Massachusetts/NH border, and heading my way. The plane was at a flight level of 40,000′ and traveling at 446 knots. The Etihad Airlines plane was flying from Abu Dahbi to New York city. It was almost directly over Tufts University when I watched as the plane disappeared into the blinding rays of the sun. I shot a heavy handed burst of several photos. I only knew of my success as I looked at the back of the Canon digital camera a few seconds after the moment of impact. The spots on the sun are not dust, they are sun spots, or storms on the sun itself as I understand it. This was a once in a lifetime photo for me, on a couple of fronts. First, and most important, was the rarity of today’s solar eclipse. Second, this is the first time I have photographed an airplane thru the sun, as I usually concentrate my aviation photography on the moon and an airplane, as seen in my aviation photo link above. Also, this is the first time I have captured the A380 thru the sun or the moon. The sky is black due to the heavy filter I was using to safely photograph the sun.
For print sales

08/21/17-Winthrop,MA. With just a few minutes left before today’s rare solar eclipse ends, an Etihad Airlines, Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger jet, flies across my view of the disk of the sun en route to New York city from Abu Dhabi. Photo by Mark Garfinkel




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14 Responses to “Photographing the Solar Eclipse with a twist: The world’s largest passenger plane.”

  1. Victoria says:

    Absolutely fantastic!!!!

  2. Great shot Mark you must be stoked with your results. Can I ask what Stuart used to make the solar filter. Unfortunately I’m in Australia so not Eclipse for us………..Cheers!!!

  3. Jon Chase says:

    Fantastic image, Mark! And really instructive to have your behind-the-scenes description of how you accomplished this feat. You probably know Galen Rowell’s work, which I’ve always admired; he also describes the techniques he used, as well as including anecdotal information about a photo, which gives viewers a much fuller appreciation for what they are seeing. Well done!

  4. Kia Baskerville says:

    Once in a lifetime photo right here! Truly amazing – nice work!

  5. Ron Ayotte says:

    Stan.. that photo is worthy of being reproduced and sold as a print. Abviaition fans, aka AvGeeks would snap those right up!

  6. pete ryan says:

    Incredible shot!Decisive moment!

  7. markadmin says:

    Thank you for writing, Pete!

  8. markadmin says:

    Thank you, Ron!

  9. markadmin says:

    Thank you, Ken!

  10. markadmin says:

    Thank you, Kia!

  11. markadmin says:

    Hi Jon! How are you? thanks so much for your thoughts, here. Much appreciated. Mark

  12. markadmin says:

    Hi Bill. Thanks for writing to me. Stuart used something he bought at bhphoto, I believe. Some type of film-like substance, like a tape that he stretched over a small box and instructed me to put the whole box over the front element of my 800mm lens. Best,

  13. markadmin says:

    Thank you, Vicky! Miss you. Stay well.