“108” by Jon Carmichael. Courtesy of Jon Carmichael.

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 experiences.

Astronomy enthusiast Jon Carmichael set his sights on capturing the 2017 total solar eclipse through the lens of his camera. However, unsure of the best approach, he faced the challenge of making this incredible astronomical event a reality in his photographs. With millions of Americans eagerly awaiting the celestial spectacle, Carmichael felt the mounting pressure to create something truly remarkable.

An alternate view of the eclipse from Carmichael’s window seat. 
Courtesy of Jon Carmichael.

Studying the eclipse’s trajectory, Carmichael made a serendipitous discovery—a Southwest Airlines flight from Portland to St. Louis would align perfectly with the eclipse’s path. Eager to seize this unique opportunity, he booked a ticket and prepared to secure a window seat. Fortunately, he didn’t need to resort to bribes, as the entire flight crew enthusiastically embraced his vision.

Carmichael and both Southwest pilots. Courtesy of Jon Carmichael.

Although Southwest Airlines doesn’t offer pre-assigned seating, the crew assured Carmichael that he would get an ideal spot to capture the event. The pilots even circled the eclipse multiple times, allowing all passengers to witness the once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. With his window cleared by the captain, Carmichael achieved the perfect vantage point, and his astonishing photo came to life.

In the subsequent year, Carmichael processed over 1,200 eclipse photos, transforming them into a breathtaking mosaic named “108.” The photo, taken over the Snake River in the Rocky Mountains, garnered widespread acclaim, with Inc. magazine calling it “history’s most amazing photo.” Carter Emmart, Director of Astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History, praised the image for offering a unique connection to space with unmatched landscape detail.

Unveiling “108.” Courtesy of Jon Carmichael.

Unveiling his masterpiece at Twitter’s headquarters, Carmichael emphasized the eclipse’s unifying power, remarking on how it became a moment of collective wonder and joy across the nation. The photo, “108,” serves as a visual reminder of humanity’s shared experiences and interconnectedness on Earth.

In conclusion, Jon Carmichael’s journey to capture the solar eclipse exemplifies the wonders of astronomy, reminding us of the profound impact celestial events can have on our lives. His remarkable photo “108” not only showcases the breathtaking beauty of the cosmos but also serves as a testament to the power of unity and the shared human experience when witnessing the grandeur of the universe.

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