University of Pittsburgh Shadow Bandits


Pitt Shadow Bandits infographic

NASA Space Grant Eclipse Ballooning Project Team

Pitt researchers will launch a high altitude balloon in Tennessee during the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse as part of a nationwide NASA project. Teams from 31 states will transmit live video and images and conduct research from more than 50 sites along the total eclipse path.


Just north of Springfield, Tennessee.

The payload consists of 7 computers, 13 camera, 2 modems, and 4 light sensors to study the shadow bands.


The balloon reaches the upper atmosphere in 1.2 hours.

The ballon expands as it rises to 90,000–100,000 feet. The payload is cut before the balloon bursts.

The payload string is 3 stories tall and weighs 12 pounds.

In Tennessee, the eclipse totality begins at 1:26 p.m. (CDT) and lasts 2 min. 37 sec. In Pittsburgh, a partial eclipse begins at 1:10 p.m. (EDT). It will cover 81% of the sun at 2:35 p.m.

The Pitt Shadow Bandits hope to confirm the theory that shadow bands—ripples of light and dark seen during eclipses—are due to atmospheric turbulence that is always present but invisible during full daylight.


The Pitt balloon parachutes to the ground in 1/2 hour.


10–20 miles from the launch site.

Follow the eclipse at