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Pitt Shadow Bandits ready to launch balloon during solar eclipse

Aaron Aupperlee
| Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, 11:48 a.m.
A photo taken near the edge of space by a camera on the University of Pittsburgh's high-altitude balloon during a flight on April 1. A Pitt team is participating in NASA's Eclipse Ballooning Project. The team will launch a balloon on Aug. 21 from near Springfield, Tennessee, to capture videos and photos of the eclipse.
A photo taken near the edge of space by a camera on the University of Pittsburgh's high-altitude balloon during a flight on April 1. A Pitt team is participating in NASA's Eclipse Ballooning Project. The team will launch a balloon on Aug. 21 from near Springfield, Tennessee, to capture videos and photos of the eclipse.
A team from University of Pittsburgh prepares to launch a high-altitude balloon on February 18, 2017. The Pitt team is participating in NASA's Eclipse Ballooning Project. The team will launch a balloon on Aug. 21 from near Springfield, Tennessee, to capture videos and photos of the eclipse.
A team from University of Pittsburgh prepares to launch a high-altitude balloon on February 18, 2017. The Pitt team is participating in NASA's Eclipse Ballooning Project. The team will launch a balloon on Aug. 21 from near Springfield, Tennessee, to capture videos and photos of the eclipse.
University of Pittsburgh student, Marshall Hartman, 22, of Whitehall, helps fill a high-altitude balloon for a test launch at Riverview Park on July 14, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
University of Pittsburgh student, Marshall Hartman, 22, of Whitehall, helps fill a high-altitude balloon for a test launch at Riverview Park on July 14, 2017.
University of Pittsburgh students prepare a balloon for a test launch at Riverview Park on July 14, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
University of Pittsburgh students prepare a balloon for a test launch at Riverview Park on July 14, 2017.
University of Pittsburgh students test launch a high-altitude balloon at Riverview Park on July 14, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
University of Pittsburgh students test launch a high-altitude balloon at Riverview Park on July 14, 2017.
University of Pittsburgh Professor Dr. Sandhya Rao helps put the final touches on the payload for a balloon test launch at Riverview Park on July 14, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
University of Pittsburgh Professor Dr. Sandhya Rao helps put the final touches on the payload for a balloon test launch at Riverview Park on July 14, 2017.

A group of University of Pittsburgh students, faculty and staff is ready for an up-close and personal look at the total solar eclipse — and shadow bands — next week.

The Pitt Shadow Bandits leave Friday for Tennessee where the group's members will prepare to launch a high-altitude balloon during the eclipse as part of NASA's nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project.

The Shadow Bandits hope to live-stream their balloon's flight on the project's site .

"We're sending up a bunch of video cameras and will take images and videos of the eclipse to try to get more information on this and we're also sending up light sensors," Marshall Hartman, a Pitt grad and member of the team, said in a video about the project.

The light sensors will help the team detect shadow bands, ribbons of light and dark that are visible during an eclipse.

The Pitt team tested their balloon and payload a month ago at the Allegheny Observatory in Riverview Park.

The team will launch their balloon on Aug. 21 from a spot just north of Springfield, Tenn. They are expecting to see the moon completely block the sun for 2 minutes and 37 seconds starting at 2:26 p.m. Pittsburgh time.

Pitt will host a viewing of the team's live stream from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Thornburgh Room at the Hillman Library. The university will also have an eclipse viewing party from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on the Hillman Library Plaza.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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