Eine fette SoFi für Apollo 12 … durch die Erde

Heute vor 50 Jahren – ein paar Stunden vor der Wasserung im Pazifik – genoss die Besatzung von Apollo 12 einen Anblick, der wahrlich „out of this world“ war und den sie zu einem der spektakulärsten der ganzen Mission erklärten: Die inzwischen auf rund 15 Grad Winkeldurchmesser angeschwollene Erde verdeckte rund eine Stunde lang die 15-mal kleinere Sonne. Festgehalten wurde diese Mega-Sonnenfinsternis mit Schwarz-Weiß-Fotos und einem 16-mm-Farbfilm, aus dem oben ein berühmtes Standbild zu sehen ist – für das Bild hier ganz unten wurde die Farb-Information mit einem der Schwarzweiß-Bilder kombiniert, während ein Farbfoto am Ende dieses Magazins, auch hier gescannt, die Erde als Sichel zeigt, wohl kurz vor der Finsternis (und hier und hier knackiger verarbeitet). Die folgenden Schwarzweißbilder stammen dagegen aus diesem Magazin, auch diese Verarbeitung eines anderen:

Wie sich die Astronauten auf die Beobachtung vorbereitet hatten und wie ihre Eindrücke – vor allem von offenbar unfotografierbaren Erscheinungen auf der Nachtseite der Erde, die während der Totalität nicht mehr überstrahlt wurde – waren, ist ausgiebig in Transkripten des Funkverkehrs mit Capcom Paul Weitz nachzulesen: hier auf den PDF-Seiten 1040-58 von 9 21 04 24 bis 10 01 49 08 und hier von 237:05 bis 241:49. Im Folgenden alles aus diesen 4 Stunden und 44 Minuten, das mit der Sonnenfinsternis zu tun hat.

237:04:24 [Mission Elapsed Time = 14:26 MEZ am 24. November 1969] Gordon: Good morning, Paul. Is anybody down there thinking about getting this eclipse as far as we’re concerned when the Sun goes behind the Earth? We’ve got – What we’ve got is some – We’ve got some 16-millimeter black and white and some 70-millimeter black and white.

237:04:47 Weitz: Okay. We’ll check on it. We’re getting the times on that now. We’ll pass those up to you and, when we do, we’ll give you the dope on the – what they want it taken with. […]

238:48:25 Weitz: Hello, Apollo 12; Houston. I have some information for you on the solar corona photos.

238:48:33 Gordon: Stand by a second.

238:48:58 Bean: Go ahead, Paul.

238:49:00 Weitz: Okay. They just want you to take photos coming out of the shadow, and they’re requesting that you use the Hasselblad, because you indicated the black-and-white film. Use the 80-millimeter lens, an f-stop of 2.8 focused at infinity. They want you to take as many photos as you can, starting at a GET of 241:55:20. Now this is approximately 2 minutes before your sunrise. To start off with, use a shutter speed of 1 second. As you come out of the shadow, as soon as you can see a hairline Sun, change your shutter speed to 1/125th, and –Stand by 1. I’ll have your final setting in just a minute.

238:50:39 Weitz: Okay, 12. And, as I said, as soon as you can see any sign of the sun at all, switch your – change your shutter speed to 1/125th. Take photos at that setting for 5 to 10 seconds, after which as the Sun comes up, then change to f:16 at 1/500th of a second. And you can just take a bunch of photos at that; and, for information, the sunrise time is 241:57:18. Over.

238:51:25 Bean: Roger. Understand. We’ll start about GET 241:55:20; we’ll use black and white, 80-millimeter lens, and we’ll have it set at 2.8, infinity, 1 second. And the first time we see a sliver of Sun, we’ll switch it to 1/125th and work on that for about 15 seconds; then we’ll shift over to f:11, 1/500th, and take some more.

238:51:54 Weitz: Okay, Al. Change over after the Sun – After you see the first sign of the Sun, go about 10 seconds instead of 15; and after the Sun starts coming up, your final f-stop is 16. That’s f:16 at a 500th.

238:52:14 Bean: Understand; f:16 and 10 seconds at the earlier setting of f:2.8 at 1/125th. […]

Public Affairs Office – „This is Apollo Control, Houston at 238 hours, 59 minutes now into the flight of Apollo 12. We presently show Apollo 12 at 39,258 nautical miles away from Earth traveling at a velocity of 95,088 feet per second. Paul Weitz was passing along camera settings to Al Bean aboard Apollo 12 for the purpose of acquiring photography of the Sun as it rises out above the Earth. There will be a period in the Flight Plan leading up to that, where the Apollo 12 spacecraft will be passing through a period of total darkness. We’re at 239 hours into the flight and continuing to monitor. This is Apollo Control, Houston.“ […]

239:40:25 Weitz: Hello, Apollo 12; Houston. When you take those corona photos, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to turn the lights down in the cabin to try to minimize reflections off the window, Pete. Over.

239:40:40 Conrad: Okay. We’ll do that. […]

240:33:34 Gordon: Hello, Houston; Apollo 12.

240:33:37 Weitz: Go ahead, 12.

240:33:39 Gordon: We’re getting a spectacular view at eclipse. We’re using the Sun filter for the G&N optics, looking through, and it’s unbelievable.

240:33:48 Weitz: Roger. Understand, Dick.

240:33:57 Gordon: The reason it looks so much different is the limb of the Earth is eclipsing it. It’s not quite a straight line, but it’s certainly a large, large disk right now. Looks quite a bit different than when you see the Moon eclipse the Sun.

240:34:15 Weitz: Roger.

240:34:18 Bean: Anybody down there know how I – what we can set the camera at to use the Sun filter on it? To – to – take a couple of shots of this eclipse right through it?

240:34:31 Weitz: Stand by and we’ll check.

240:34:35 Bean: They’d better hustle.

240:34:38 Weitz: Okay.

240:34:47 Bean: Funny thing is, you cannot see the Earth at all when you just shield your hand from the Sun and look out right next to it where the Earth should be. It’s not there at all. When you stick your smoked glass up, you can see where it’s cutting the – the Sun. Otherwise, it’s completely invisible.

240:35:04 Weitz: Roger, Al. [Long comm break.]

Public Affairs Office – „You hear Dick Gordon and Al Bean describing the eclipse they are seeing. Very shortly they will start their photography on this scene. We now show Apollo 12 at an altitude of 30,044 nautical miles away from Earth and traveling at a velocity of 11,039 feet per second.“ […]

240:42:16 Bean: Fantastic sight. What we see now is – The Sun is almost completely eclipsed now, and what it’s done is illuminated the entire atmosphere all the way around the Earth, even though the Sun is still on what looks like the western limb of the Moon – the Earth to us.

240:42:34 Weitz: Roger. Understand, Al. And we’re still working on getting a procedure for taking some photographs of it.

240:42:40 Bean: Man, it’s too light. We’re using those for sunrise. I think they’ll be exactly the same.

240:42:45 Weitz: Okay.

240:42:46 Bean: But the diameter of the Earth now looks compared – to the Moon – I’d say about 15 times the diameter of the Sun; but it’s illuminating the whole atmosphere all the way around. It really looks pretty. You can’t see the Earth. It’s black just like the – space.

240:43:13 Weitz: Roger. Understand you cannot make out the Earth at all.

240:43:18 Bean: No. You can’t see any features on it. All you can see is this sort of purple-blue, orange, some shades of violet, completely around the Earth. It’s illuminated.

240:43:29 Weitz: Roger. [Long pause.]

Public Affairs Office – „Apollo Control, Houston. Giving that vivid description was Lunar Module pilot, Al Bean, describing the illumination around the entire atmosphere of the Earth, which at present is providing an eclipse over the Sun. We’re 240 hours, 44 minutes into the flight. We now show Apollo 12, 29,137 nautical miles away from Earth and traveling at a speed of 11,213 feet per second. “

240:44:18 Conrad: It’s very interesting looking at the atmosphere. It has blues and pinks in it, but instead of being banded, it’s segmented, which is very peculiar; I don’t understand why. It may be the difference between over the landmasses and water or something.

240:44:38 Weitz: Roger, Pete. Understand. Is it kind of like you would see in the desert in the evening sometimes when you get that blue and pink streaking in the sky?

240:44:48 Conrad: Yes. Except, like I say, it’s segmented for about – Right from the Sun, around about a quarter of the Earth is pure blue, and then it becomes pink to about 20 degrees of arc; and then it turns back to blue again. And it’s blue all the way around the bottom – to where it turns pink again, and then it turns blue again.

240:45:18 Weitz: Roger, 12.

Public Affairs Office – „That was – that was Pete Conrad adding his description of the view. We’re at 240 hours, 45 minutes now into the flight of Apollo 12. “

240:47:01 Bean: It’s a heck of a time to be without any 70-millimeter color film, I’ll tell you.

240:47:07 Weitz: …[garble]…

240:47:08 Bean: But I know how to get it on a 16-millimeter camera.

240:47:11 Weitz: Okay, Al. Good show. We were just thinking the same thing. [Comm break.]

240:50:45 Bean: Have you got a suggestion on the f-stop for the 16 millimeter?

240:50:50 Weitz: We’re working on it.

240:50:52 Bean: It looks – It looks like this is going to have a luminated atmosphere, probably the whole time it’s eclipsed. What it looks like now through the smoked glass is that the Sun is completely set behind the Earth, and you probably know better than I do from some…

240:51:16 Bean: Roger. We’re using it at 1/60th at 1 frame a second and I – using 1.4 f-stop and also at 2 – and what – and a 1. What it looks like is the Sun is set, but it’s so close to the limb of the Moon on the backside there, that that bright light is being channeled through the atmosphere, and so if you look at it with a naked lie – eye you can’t tell the Sun is set yet. Through the smoked glass, you can see that it’s no longer a disk there, but you just see a bright white line the diameter of the Sun.

240:51:57 Weitz: Roger, Pete. Understand. Al. […]

240:53:49 Gordon: We’re shooting these at 1/60th at 1.4, and that’s where we’re going to stay unless you come up with a better suggestion.

240:53:57 Weitz: Roger. We got that, Dick; 1/60th, 1.4 at 1 frame a second. They’re working on it in the back room and, actually according to our figures here, you should still be seeing a little piece of the Sun. You don’t enter the full umbra until a little after 241 GET.

240:54:16 Gordon: You’re absolutely correct. We still have a little bit of Sun through the horizon on the western limb.

240:54:22 Weitz: Roger.

240:54:25 Gordon: But right now, the Earth is completely – the atmosphere of the Earth is completely illuminated all the way around, 360, and right in the center it’s as black – it’s as dark at the –as space behind it itself. This is really spectacular.

240:54:42 Weitz: Roger.

240:54:47 Gordon: Have you got any more adjectives for spectacular? I’d like to use some if you have.

240:54:52 Weitz: No. We’ll put somebody to work on that, too. […]

240:55:44 Weitz: Hello, 12; Houston. You’re taking these pictures through the optics, right?

240:55:51 Gordon: Negative, Houston. Through the hatch window.

240:55:53 Weitz: Okay. [Long pause.]

240:56:12 Weitz: 12, Houston. Which lens do you have on the DAC?

240:56:16 Gordon: I have 18 millimeter.

240:56:18 Weitz: Okay. [Long pause.]

240:56:52 Weitz: Okay, 12; Houston. We’ve got some words for you. Set aligns to f:2, go to Time on your mode select and give us a 1-second exposure, if you would. Hit the button that opens the shutter; hit the button again that closes it.

240:57:16 Gordon: Understand. We’ll work on it.

241:00:18 Gordon: Houston, Apollo 12. One thing that puzzles us a little bit, perhaps FIDO can answer it. It looks to us like the Sun is being eclipsed by the Earth – Earth’s North pole or South pole. It’s kind of hard to tell what – whether it is its East or West limb. Have you got any additional dope there on that?

241:00:37 Weitz: Okay. We’ll find out and see which direction it’s moving. [Comm break.]

241:02:45 Weitz: Hello, 12; Houston. For the mode select in Time to function properly on the camera, the shutter speed has to be set to 1/60th even though that’s not our actual shutter speed.

241:02:58 Bean: I’d say we’ve got it. Thank you, though, Houston.

241:03:00 Weitz: Roger. […]

241:11:27 [18:33 MEZ] Bean: This has got to be the most spectacular sight of the whole flight. We can see now that the Sun’s behind the Earth. We can see clouds sort of on the dark part of the Earth; and, of course, the Earth’s still defined by this thin narrow – or thin blue-and-red segmented band. It’s a little bit thicker over at the – down where the Sun just set than it is at the other one, but it is really a fantastic sight. The clouds appear sort of pinkish gray, and they’re sort of scattered all the way around the Earth. It would be interesting to know exactly what part of the Earth we’re looking at or what our nadir is now, because that part doesn’t appear to have any clouds, and these others appear to be sort of revolving around it.

241:12:26 Weitz: Roger, Al. Understand that you can see clouds all the way around the Earth including the dark portion of it, and your nadir right now is just about the Indian Ocean.

241:12:37 Conrad: Well, the whole – the whole Earth is dark to us. We looking at the night side, but we can see all the clouds. We haven’t been able to distinguish landmasses yet, but we might be able to in a minute when we get a little bit better adapted, and I think the airglow is illuminating the clouds down there.

241:12:56 Weitz: Roger, Pete.

Public Affairs Office – „Apollo Control, Houston. That was both Al Bean and Pete Conrad who reiterating the spectacular view. “

241:13:12 Weitz: 12, Houston. I’ll give you a time hack to ignition so you can check your DET. It’ll be at 8 minutes which is about 40 seconds away.

241:14:04 Conrad: What happened to your time hack?

241:14:07 Weitz: Well, we’re going to come up on 8 minutes – Yes, I blew it. I’ll give you one at 7:30.

241:14:12 Conrad: Okay. [Laughter] I – you had me worried for a minute.

241:14:16 Weitz: Okay. We’re discussing the important parts, such as which side of the world the Sun’s set on. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

241:14:28 Weitz: Mark.

241:14:29 Weitz: 7:30.

241:14:30 Conrad: Okay. We’re right with you. [Long pause.]

241:15:22 Gordon: Say, Houston. It’s very interesting. We can see lightning and the thunderstorms down there on the Earth. I don’t know how many miles out we are, but all the cloud cover that has thunderstorms in it, we can see lightning – you can see it quite clearly, flashing from wherever we are.

241:15:40 Bean: Yes. They look like – sort of just like fireflies down there blinking off and on.

241:15:47 Weitz: Yes. Yes. You’re about 25,750 out.

241:15:55 Bean: Yes. We’re starting to look out for these synchronous satellites now. We’ve been looking up ahead.

241:16:01 Weitz: Okay.

241:16:05 Conrad: Sure hate to run into one up here.

241:16:09 Weitz: Yes. It could ruin your day. [Long pause.]

Public Affairs Office – „Apollo Control Houston. Synchronous satellites serve an altitude of approximately 22,000 nautical miles. We now show Apollo 12 at an altitude of 25,667 nautical miles from Earth, traveling at a speed of 11,941 feet per second. “

241:17:01 Weitz: Apollo 12, Houston. If those lightning flashes are fairly frequent, we’d like to see if we can capture some of them on film, which would be the mode you are presently in with the speed set to 1/60th at f:2, remain in the Time on the mode select, and leave the shutter open for 1 to 2 minutes.

241:17:24 Gordon: Oh, yes. They’re – they’re equally – they’re – They’re that frequent. There’s two areas down there that are quite active right now.

241:17:32 Conrad: Paul, have you got any idea of how to hold that camera still for 1 to 2 minutes?

241:17:37 Weitz: No.

241:17:39 Conrad: Okay.

241:17:40 Gordon: We’ll give it her go after we get this burn off.

241:17:43 Weitz: Okay. […]

241:19:06 Weitz: Hello, 12; Houston. On your question on where the Sun went behind the Earth, we’ve decided that it did go behind the western limb of the Earth in the Northern hemisphere and should reappear on the Eastern limb, still in the Northern hemisphere.

241:19:27 Conrad: Roger. […]

241:27:03 Conrad: Houston, 12. We – we’re better night-adapted now, and by golly, we can see India, and we can see the Red Sea, and we can see the Indian Ocean quite early. It’s amazing how well we can see, for that matter. We can see Burma and the clouds going around the coastline of Burma, and we can see Africa and the Gulf of Aqaba; it looks like the same photograph Dick and I took on 11.

241:27:37 Conrad: Roger, Pete. [Comm break.]

241:29:03 Conrad: We can also distinguish the lights of large towns with our naked eye, just barely, and by using the monocular, we can confirm that that’s what we’re seeing.

241:29:16 Weitz: Roger, 12. That’s very interesting. You may now hold the class record for seeing lights.

Public Affairs Office – „Apollo Control, Houston. We show Apollo 12 now 24,000…“

241:29:32 Conrad: I can tell you, there’s a couple of ripdoozer thunderstorms down there that are really – really letting go.

241:29:40 Weitz: From what can you see of the geography there, can you tell where the thunderstorms are, Pete?

241:29:46 Conrad: Okay. I’ll give you a fix on this one that is really bright.

Public Affairs Office – „Apollo 12 now 24,200 nautical miles from Earth. That’s…“

241:30:04 Conrad: I’m going to give you a fix and say that it’s about 2,300 miles to the southwest of the tip of India. There seems to be a weather system out there, and it’s got thunderstorms all the way along it.

241:30:28 Weitz: Roger, 12.

241:30:52 Conrad: It’s – Venus is just below the Earth, and we can see Venus quite clearly, well, you can see all kinds of stars, but Venus is just below the Earth. This is – This is really a sight to behold, to see it at night time like this.

241:31:10 Weitz: Roger. […]

241:32:10 Weitz: Hello, 12; Houston. For your information, weather does not have any surface reports from that region, but the satellite picture does show quite extensive cloud coverage of the area you’re reporting the lightning.

241:32:26 Conrad: Okay. I got a – Unfortunately, we’ve got our Earth map stashed away. I wish I had it out. I’m not sure that I’m giving you the absolute exact location. And the other thing is, it looks like, just north of India and I’d say all up through China and Russia, if that’s what we’re looking at, the whole area in there looks like it is completely covered with clouds.

241:32:54 Weitz: Roger. Understand, Pete.

241:33:04 Conrad: Also, also, right in the center of the Earth now, we have some real bright light shining, staying on – that – that Dick’s looking at with the monocular. It’s really bright.

241:33:20 Weitz: Roger. Understand. Does it appear to be coming from your nadir point, which should be just off the Eastern coast of India now?

241:33:28 Conrad: Yes. Looks like it’s coming just about out of the center of what we’re looking at. I would say south of Burma and east of India.

241:33:39 Weitz: Roger. That’s just about your nadir. [Long pause.]

241:34:11 Conrad: I can’t imagine what that is.

241:34:21 Weitz: We can’t either. We’re checking for possibilities.

241:34:27 Conrad: It’s a steady light, and it appears in size to be as big as any of the thunderstorms flashing.

241:34:39 Bean: Yes. It’s as big as Venus at least. [Long pause.]

241:34:59 Weitz: Roger. Understand.

241:34:59 Bean: It’s hard to tell if it is exactly in the center of the Earth or not, it’s pretty close to being right in the center. Maybe just a little bit to our right, whatever that means. Just a little bit to the side that the Sun did not go behind the Earth on.

241:35:21 Weitz: Roger. I think we understand that.

241:35:26 Conrad: And looking at the airglow with the monocular is – Boy, there is another sight now that is not like being in Earth orbit whatsoever. It’s -it’s a bright red next to the Earth, and then it’s got a green band in it, and then it’s got a blue band.

241:35:52 Weitz: Would you say these color bands encircle the Earth now, Pete?

241:35:58 Conrad: Yes. But it’s not the same all the way around. What I’m seeing is – is sunrise, really. The Sun is – this is about 40 degrees from the Sun, and there’s a red – bright red band – and then a sort of a light green band that’s very thin, and then a blue one which must be all of the atmosphere.

241:36:25 Weitz: Roger. […]

241:38:08 Weitz: 12, Houston. Can you still see that bright light about in the center?

241:38:14 Conrad: We’re – Al – Al – we rolled so Al could take the sunrise pictures, and the Sun has pretty well wiped out that view that we had. Now the Sun’s started up, and the Earth has turned black again.

241:38:26 Weitz: Roger. Understand. […]

241:48:43 Weitz: I understand, Al, that you can see the Sun, now. Is that right?

241:48:52 Bean: That’s affirmative. I’ve been watching it for about the last 4 or 5 minutes. I didn’t put a clock on it, but I started that sequence you gave me when the Sun started to peek around. I expect that the time I got that came out of the computer was the time when it’s going to be fully out.

241:49:08 Weitz: Okay, Al. Good show.

NACHTRAG: Den damals nicht fotografierbaren Anblick der Erde während der Totalität mit mondbeschienenen Wolken und bunt leuchtendem Atmosphären-Ring hat jetzt o.g. Weltraum-Künstler akribisch rekonstruiert, nach den Beschreibungen der Astronauten (von denen ihn Bean auch selber gemalt hatte, wenn auch erst 2001 leider) und dem 16-mm-Film, mit dem er auch direkt experimentiert hat. Und im 16-mm-Onboard-Film sieht man die fotografischen Bemühungen um die SoFi ganz am Ende ab 1:24:13.

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