Solar Eclipse 2017

Composite image (11 pictures) showing the progression of the total solar eclipse as viewed in Madras, Oregon. (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Congrats to our three awesome Eclipse Ballooning Teams!

What a great event that has received

very positive media coverage!

See the team observation videos below!


09/11/2017 – Pittsburgh Shadow Bandits observations of the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse from a high-altitude balloon, launched near Springfield, Tennessee.

8/5/2017 – Temple University High Flyers observations of the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse from a high-altitude balloon, launched in Cadiz, Kentucky.

Rising to the celestial occasion with tracking balloons

* NewsWorks program talks with Temple student and balloon team lead Abby Sydnes…






08/19/2017 – Channel 6 Action News:Temple University students gear up for the solar eclipse


08/18/2017 – Penn State University: Press Release on Eclipse Ballooning Event


On Monday, August 21, 2017, a total eclipse of the sun will be experienced by those of us in North America – the first to occur across continental U.S. over 38 years. In conjunction with the eclipse, NASA has planned many activities to celebrate this awesome event including an eclipse ballooning project. Eclipse ballooning teams from all of the country are developing science payloads to be tested and flown on the day of the eclipse. These teams will conduct their high altitude balloon (HAB) flights from ~25 locations across the total eclipse path, from Oregon to South Carolina (see map below) and will send live video and images to the NASA website!

While the cost of conducting HAB flights is low, there are  interesting challenges presented by this highly collaborative effort. These challenges are broad – technical, political, administrative – and present an amazing hands-on learning opportunity for the students who participate (eclipse ballooning site). To learn more about the project please visit the main Eclipse 2017 Ballooning Project Website.

On August 21st Live Video will be streamed here!

Live stream from the PA balloons! Scroll along the right side of the website and click on one of our teams (Temple, Pitt, or Gannon). Be sure to catch a glimpse of the eclipse for each teams’ perspective!

More than a 1000 students from Oregon to South Carolina are participating, launching over 70 high-altitude balloons along the path of the total solar eclipse to livestream the event Project activities by students, mentors, faculty, and staff have far exceeded the National Space Grant Foundation’s resources to fund everyone.  So, we need your help! The project has been wildly more popular than they had ever imagined and are asking for your help. In order to raise additional funds, the project has started a crowdfunding campaign. This experience has been pivotal for many of the students that are participating and they greatly appreciate your help. Please click here to visit the GoFundMe site and contribute!

Meet the Pennsylvania Teams

There are three teams from Pennsylvania participating in this project. Teams include faculty, post-docs, graduate students, and undergraduate students working together to design, build, test, and launch a successful ballooning mission to address their goals. Learn about each team below!

*The three Pennsylvania teams will launch their payloads from sites in Kentucky and Tennessee (orange markers) 

  • Temple High Flyers Team on April 11th 2017

Launch Location: Trigg Country High School, Cadiz, Kentucky
Purpose: To stream stable, targeted video of solar eclipse to the NASA Stream website for entirety of event
Payload: Learn about the specifics here
Video: Ballooning Test V2 on April 11th, 2017 [Youtube]

Temple University High Flyers Team
Dr. John Helferty – Faculty Advisor
Edward MacMurchy – undergraduate student
Abby Sydnes – undergraduate student
Dmitriy Yarmaliuk – undergraduate student
Michael Mazzanti – undergraduate student

  • The University of Pittsburgh team recovering the balloon payload near Ebensburg, PA on February 18th, 2017.

Launch Location: Spring Lake Church, Tennessee

Team Members
Dr. Dave Turnshek – Director of the Allegheny Observatory
Dr. Russell Clark – Department of Physics and Astronomy
Dr. Sandhya Rao – Department of Physics and Astronomy
Dr. Jeffrey Vipperman – Department of Mechanical Engineering
Louis Coban – Technician, Allegheny Observatory
Grace Chu – Undergraduate Student
Janvi Madhani  – Undergraduate Student
Carlos Vazquez  – Undergraduate Student
Sinjon Bartel  – Undergraduate Student
Aimee Everett  – Undergraduate Student
Marshall Hartman  – Post-Baccalaureate
Evan Becker   – Undergraduate Student (spring semester only)
Emma Harvey   – Undergraduate Student (spring semester only)

  • Team photo, taken on 9/12/16 in the lab. (Rear row, from left: Tenger Batjargal, Stephen Karpinsky, Carter Miller, Alejandro Ferrero, Donovan Starks, Lauren Reilly, Maia MacKellar; Front row, seated, from left: Kaitlyn Babiarz, Dr. Nicholas Conklin (Physics), Dr. Wookwon Lee (Electrical and Computer Engineering))

Launch Location:
Kenlake State Park, Kentucky

Gannon team has been progressing well with the project. The team did a balloon launch practice on 4/22/17 as part of “Wow” events for the annual spring open house.

Faculty Advisors:
Dr. Wookwon Lee – Faculty Advisor
Nicholas Conklin – Faculty Advisor

Undergraduate Students:
Kaitlyn Babiarz
Batjargal, Tenger
Alejandro Ferrero
Stephen Karpinsky
Maia MacKellar
Carter Miller
Lauren Reilly
Donovan Starks
Kangxu Wang
Jessica Moukoro