Silver Spring, Md. - Discovery HD Theater will air the only live high-definition broadcast in the United States of the first total solar eclipse seen by humans in Antarctica, Sunday, Nov. 23 from 5-7 PM ET.
The event is a joint project with Discovery HD’s sister network, The Science Channel (a standard-definition network), which will interrupt its regularly scheduled programming from 5-7 PM (ET) that same evening with 30- to 60-second live eclipse reports. At 9 PM (ET) The Science Channel will air a one-hour highlights program of the rare eclipse event.
Fewer than 70 total eclipses occur every century. To see a total eclipse, a person must be in the 'path of totality' which can be anywhere from 15 to 200 miles wide.
Discovery HD Theater and The Science Channel are working with NHK, Japan's public broadcasting company which works entirely in high-definition, to deliver the telecast to the United States.
Discovery HD said the event producers will use four cameras mounted on a jet plane flying 33,000 feet above the Antarctic continent at about 450 mph (a remote-controlled camera specially mounted underneath the plane; two cameras shooting through specially installed, crystal-material 'windows' to secure total transparency and obliterate distortion; and one camera for shooting inside the airplane cabin).
Additionally, three cameras will be set up at Novolazarevskaya Station in Russia (two operated by cameramen and one remote-controlled); and four more will be used at Showa Station (a Japanese station located in Antarctica) to capture the reaction by penguins at the Adelie penguin rookery.
Researchers expect the total solar eclipse will cause the sky to light up like a red flame.
Viewers will be able to see the continent undergo an extraordinary progression visually as the new moon passes directly between the sun and the earth. When daytime (actually in the case of this Antarctic solar eclipse, it's a midnight sun which provides even more visual excitement because of its trajectory) briefly turns into darkness, the cameras will catch the reaction of the feathered residents of the penguin rookery.
The phenomenon will last two hours, with the total eclipse portion being less than two minutes. Discovery HD Theater will broadcast the entire event live. This is only the second live event Discovery HD Theater has broadcast since it launched in the summer of 2002. The other event was the Tournament of Roses Parade in January 2003.