Key Takeaways

  1. Astronomy photographer Jon Carmichael embarked on a mission to photograph the 2017 total solar eclipse, leading to a remarkable journey.
  2. Southwest Airlines played a surprising role, accommodating Carmichael’s vision and giving him a perfect view of the eclipse from the sky.
  3. The breathtaking photo, named “108,” captured over the Snake River in the Rocky Mountains, is hailed as one of history’s most amazing images.
  4. Carmichael spent a year processing 1,200 eclipse photos, creating a mosaic that astounded viewers and even attracted Twitter’s attention.
  5. The unifying nature of celestial events like eclipses reminds us of our interconnectedness and the profound impact of such experience
Total Eclipse Photo by Jon Carmichael
“108” by Jon Carmichael. Courtesy of Jon Carmichael.

In August 2017, over 200 million Americans beheld the total solar eclipse, yet among them, photographer Jon Carmichael secured an unparalleled perspective. With a blend of dedication to photography, astronomy, and aviation, Carmichael meticulously crafted a plan spanning years to immortalize the eclipse uniquely.

Contemplating the eclipse’s swift shadow traversing the Earth’s surface at 2,000 mph, Carmichael pondered the prospect. He articulated, “The notion of witnessing the moon’s shadow in motion at such velocity fascinated me profoundly.” Furthermore, as a photographer, he aspired to encapsulate this transient marvel from an exclusive vantage point amidst intense competition within his profession.

Through meticulous scrutiny of the eclipse’s trajectory, Carmichael discerned an opportune solution in Southwest Airlines’ Portland to St. Louis flight. Embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime gamble, he procured a ticket, hopeful for a window seat. Prepared to negotiate for optimal positioning, his foresight was unnecessary. Upon divulging his endeavor to the Southwest crew, not only did they secure him a prime seat but the captain personally ensured a pristine window for optimal photography. During the flight, the pilots orchestrated several orbits to afford passengers a breathtaking spectacle.

As the moment of totality approached, Carmichael poised himself. Capturing over 1,200 images within a fleeting two-minute window, he immortalized the total eclipse over Snake River. Inc. lauds the resultant image as “history’s most remarkable photo.” A monumental 10-foot laser-crystal c-print now adorns Twitter’s New York headquarters.

Reflecting on this pinnacle achievement, Carmichael expressed profound elation. “In photography, the realization of one’s envisioned moment is a rarity, let alone surpassing expectations. After years of visualization, enduring considerable risk and sleepless nights, perusing the photographs brought immense relief and gratitude.” His celebration, marked by a libation and an enduring smile, encapsulated the culmination of a transformative experience.

Carmichael dedicated a year to crafting the images into a monumental photographic mosaic titled “108.” Limited edition prints are presently available for acquisition via his website, perpetuating the legacy of this extraordinary endeavor.

Jon Carmichael - Behind the Scenes of Total Eclipse Photo
Photographer Jon Carmichael took a Southwest flight during the Great American Eclipse to get the perfect photo from his seat.
Jon Carmichael - Behind the Scenes of Total Eclipse Photo
Once he explained his mission to the flight crew, the captain cleaned his window to ensure he’d have a crystal clear shot.
Jon Carmichael - Behind the Scenes of Total Eclipse Photo
From his window seat, Carmichael had the perfect view and was able to take 1,200 photos during the eclipse. 
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