Group sends balloon into atmosphere to get a clearer look at solar eclipse

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Members of the Oakland County 4-H program came together Monday to send a weather balloon 19 miles into the sky.

The balloon was geared with cameras and tracking equipment to get unobstructed video of the total solar eclipse.

According to the program coordinator Jason Scott, the balloon would also collect scientific data on the phenomenon.

“We’re hoping to capture the eclipse at the highest height we can in Michigan,” Scott said.

The group has done this experiment a couple times before. Scott said he got the idea from a couple of MIT students nearly a decade ago.

“I thought wow, what a cool way to do something with kids and get them excited about science and atmosphere and weather.”

The balloon took off at 1 p.m. Monday, and landed roughly 4 hours later. It was designed to reach burst altitude right as the eclipse hit maximum coverage.

“As it goes up higher and higher there’s less and less pressure and that balloon is going to get bigger and bigger until it can no longer hold itself, and explode,” Scott said.

Scott says experiments like this one are a great way to take advantage of this once in a lifetime experience.

“A lot of it was to raise awareness about the eclipse, to do something fun and unique for the eclipse that nobody else is doing, at least nobody I know is doing,” Scott said. “Other than being here in Michigan we’re not going to see the full eclipse but we’re going to try to do something unique.”

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