Been there, done that? How about total umbral immersion 40,000 feet in the air?
For thrill seekers, that's the pitch from Rick Brown, a self-described "eclipse-chaser" who has chartered an Airbus jet that will fly into the path of a total eclipse of the sun set to occur on July 11. (And you thought that was just a Carly Simon lyric).
Total eclipses typically occur only once every year or two. And viewing them can be a challenge: they are often only visible from remote parts of the Earth, and even if you make the trek, clouds or weather can obscure the view. On July 11, for example, the moon's shadow, or umbra, will sweep across the South Pacific in a narrow band, only making landfall on Easter Island and a few atolls in French Polynesia. The "totality," as the period when the sun is completely blocked by the moon is called, will last just four minutes on the ground.
Enter Rick Brown and his EFLIGHT 2010. The forty or so eclipse-chasing passengers high above the clouds will watch as the moon's shadow approach them from over 200 miles away before basking in the darkness of the lunar shadow and gazing at the sun's pearly white corona for nearly 10 full minutes - which Brown says will be a record viewing time.