Dan McGlaun of Indianapolis poses Tuesday in Anchorage with special glasses designed to view the total solar eclipse.

Dan McGlaun of Indianapolis poses Tuesday in Anchorage with special glasses designed to view the total solar eclipse.

Flight to Hawaii promises prime view of total solar eclipse

ANCHORAGE — Skygazers from around the country caught a flight from Alaska to Hawaii on Tuesday for prime viewing of a total solar eclipse that will unfold over parts of Indonesia and the Indian and Pacific oceans.

A dozen eclipse enthusiasts were among the 181 passengers on the plane that departed Anchorage for Honolulu. The rare event comes when the moon is close enough to Earth to completely block out the sun.

Joe Rao, an associate astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium in New York, called Alaska Airlines last fall, explaining that the flight would be in the right place for the eclipse. The route was expected to encounter the darkest shadow of the moon as it passed over Earth.

Problem was, the plane would be passing by nearly a half-hour too soon.

The airline said it rescheduled the flight to depart 25 minutes later, and it is expected to rendezvous with the eclipse’s sweet spot nearly 700 miles north of Honolulu. After the schedule tweak, Rao and a dozen other astronomy aficionados booked seats for the big show at 36,000 feet.

Rao, like other self-dubbed “eclipse geeks,” was thrilled about setting out to witness his 11th such spectacle.

“It is an experience,” he said of watching the sun turn into a giant black disk in the sky. “Every fiber of you gets involved in those few moments when the sun is totally eclipsed.”

The eclipse is expected to last just under two minutes. The last total solar eclipse was in March 2015, and the one before that was in 2012.

Craig Small, a semiretired Hayden Planetarium astronomer, was taking off to view his 31st total eclipse. If all goes according to plan, this event will put him over the 100-minute mark in experiencing eclipses.

To mark each viewing, Small carries a special eclipse flag made in 1972.

Also on board was Dan McGlaun, who brought 200 pairs of special filter glasses to distribute to other passengers. McGlaun, a project manager who runs eclipse2017.org, will be viewing his 12th total eclipse.

“It’s going to be amazing. It always is,” he said before boarding. “It’s a universal reaction when you see an eclipse. You cheer, you scream, you cry.”

Evan Zucker of San Diego, left, and Craig Small, a semi-retired astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium in New York City, hang an eclipse flag in the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Anchorage on Tuesday. They and other so-called eclipse chasers boarded a special flight from Anchorage to Honolulu to view the eclipse on Tuesday from the air.

Evan Zucker of San Diego, left, and Craig Small, a semi-retired astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium in New York City, hang an eclipse flag in the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Anchorage on Tuesday. They and other so-called eclipse chasers boarded a special flight from Anchorage to Honolulu to view the eclipse on Tuesday from the air.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 15

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, June 13, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Bill Thomas, a former Republican state representative from Haines, announced Friday he is dropping out of the race for the District 3 House seat this fall. (U.S. Sustainability Alliance photo)
Bill Thomas drops out of District 3 House race, says there isn’t time for fishing and campaigning

Haines Republican cites rough start to commercial season; incumbent Andi Story now unopposed.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, speaks at the Alaska Democratic Party’s state convention on May 18 at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Peltola among few Democrats to vote for annual defense bill loaded with GOP ‘culture war’ amendments

Alaska congresswoman expresses confidence “poison pills” will be removed from final legislation.

A celebratory sign stands outside Goldbelt Inc.’s new building during the Alaska Native Regional Corporation’s 50th-anniversary celebration on Jan. 4. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Medical company sues Goldbelt for at least $30M in contract dispute involving COVID-19 vaccine needles

Company says it was stuck with massive stock of useless needles due to improper specs from Goldbelt.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 12, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A yearling black bear waits for its mother to return. Most likely she won’t. This time of year juvenile bears are separated, sometimes forcibly, by their mothers as families break up during mating season. (Photo courtesy K. McGuire)
Bearing witness: Young bears get the boot from mom

With mating season for adults underway, juveniles seek out easy food sources in neighborhoods.

A chart shows COVID-19 pathogen levels at the Mendenhall wastewater treatment plant during the past three months. (Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Wastewater Surveillance System)
Juneau seeing another increase in COVID-19 cases, but a scarcity of self-test kits

SEARHC, Juneau Drug have limited kits; other locations expect more by Saturday.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks to reporters during a news conference Feb. 7. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Gov. Dunleavy picks second ex-talk radio host for lucrative fish job after first rejected

Rick Green will serve at least through Legislature’s next confirmation votes in the spring of 2025.

Most Read