Apollo 12 and the (virtually unrecorded) eclipse

I’m just reading the final chapters of the excellent Apollo book. I had no idea that the crew of Apollo 12 witnessed the Earth eclipsing the Sun!

Mission planners knew that, on the way back, the Earth would block the Sun. But nothing special was planned.

The crew were stunned when they saw it start. They had to watch through a dark filter so as to not go blind due to looking at the Sun. Thanks to Earth having an atmosphere it was amazing; the colours changing as the Sun got more blocked. But…they had no colour photo film left!

They frantically radioed down for the settings on the B&W camera to shoot in this complex set of lighting conditions, but apparently it was too late, as it was changing fast.

They grabbed the movie camera and shot some footage, but it seems to have been blurry and had exposure problems.

Here’s a frame from the movie footage. It looks like you can see some of the colours in the atmosphere.

This was the first time any human had seen this. And the last. No other Apollo came back via this trajectory and we haven’t been that far out since.

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