Birmingham takes notice of rare total solar eclipse

Birmingham takes notice of rare total solar eclipse
A family at Vulcan Park relaxes on the grass while watching the solar eclipse. (Karim Shamsi-Basha / Alabama NewsCenter)

The sun wasn’t blacked out and downtown Birmingham wasn’t plunged into complete darkness, but the 2017 solar eclipse has left a lasting impression on many in the Magic City.

There were institutions such as Southern Research, UAB and McWane Science Center that had an interest in the technical attributes of the rare phenomenon.

A time-lapse look at downtown Birmingham during the solar eclipse from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

In fact, Southern Research had a direct involvement in developing and operating special airborne telescopes mounted on WB-57 planes for NASA to study the eclipse, the sun’s outer atmosphere and temperature shifts on the surface of Mercury.

Southern Research hosts eclipse party on Birmingham campus from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“We’re holding this party, one, because it’s a cool science event, but, two, we have a major role in the eclipse,” said Michael Johns, vice president of engineering at Southern Research. “We actually built the two sensors that are flying on the NASA planes right now about 50,000 feet above Missouri and Tennessee and Kentucky getting high-resolution imagery of the eclipse in totality.”

At UAB, optometrists took patients out to view the eclipse safely.

Meanwhile at McWane, a special presentation on eclipses and Earth and space science took place inside the center followed by an eclipse viewing event atop the parking deck.

But most people who ventured outside from their workplaces and classrooms across north central Alabama (not counting the rare marriage proposal) did so out of a curiosity brought on by weeks of build-up and anticipation for the first total solar eclipse in almost a century to cross the continental United States.

It was also the first total solar eclipse of the social media era, and while it came and went it will not soon be forgotten.

2017 Eclipse time lapse from Birmingham’s Vulcan Park from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

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