How We Do It

Broadcasting a celestial event from a foreign country is a complicated feat. We planned the program with a group of educators and scientists from NASA’s Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum (from the University of California at Berkeley and Goddard Space Flight Center), other NASA groups (STEREO mission), and staff at the Exploratorium.

For this eclipse, we used four telescopes in the field: two in white light (1/4 disc and full disc) and two with hydrogen-alpha filters (1/4 disc and full disc). The white light telescopes captured magnified versions of what the human eye could see. The hydrogen-alpha telescopes filtered out a significant amount of light from the sun’s surface. They’re used before and after totality and provide a dramatic view of sunspots, prominences, and other solar features.




View photos from the field, and see how we managed to hook up all of that equipment in an ancient ampitheater.

The telescopes, cameras, and filters were provided and operated by Larry Kenworthy, Aaron Rosen, and Bill Dean. We also had three video cameras, seven microphones, a soundboard, a video mixing board, a computer, and tape decks (for showing stills and animations). This gear was packed into 29 cases, which weighed two tons. In addition to our three telescope wranglers, we had two producers, a six-person video crew, a sound technician, two still photographers, four on-air guests, four call-in guests, and a satellite technician.

The live eclipse feed was sent, via satellite, from a second-century Roman amphitheater in Side, Turkey, to a station in London, England. From London, it went via fiber-optic cable to Atlanta, Georgia. In Atlanta, it was directed to two places: a satellite over the Americas and an encoding center in Denver, Colorado. In Denver, the feed was encoded and sent to a server farm to allow worldwide Internet access. The satellite broadcast was used by dozens of museums and press agencies.

© Exploratorium