National Geographic : 1963 Jan
mid-Pacific to view the longest solar eclipse in 1,200 years. In 1947 the U. S. Army Air Forces flew a 76-man eclipse team and 75 tons of equipment to a specially built airstrip at Bocaiuva, Brazil, 400 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. Nearby, a tent city rose under the Society's flag. As Project Officer, I shuttled to and from the site in a wild variety of aircraft. Once I flew in aboard an old Brazilian cargo plane that liter ally had sagged under the weight of an electric generator. "There's nothing to be concerned about," a helpful crew man reassured me. "The plane is condemned anyhow." As eclipse day, May 20, approached, I worried about the persistently cloudy sky. Father Francis Heyden, S.J., of Georgetown College Observatory, was a member of our party. I suggested to him that he had the accredited channels of communication to do something about the weather. Father Heyden said he would see what he could do, and I'm sure he did. The skies cleared just long enough that morn ing to get excellent photographs and observations! Sky Atlas Charts the Universe In 1956 the Society and the California Institute of Technol ogy completed their monumental Sky Atlas, one of the most significant achievements in the history of astronomy. Pre pared at Palomar Observatory, it mapped a volume of space Dry run in the gondola of Explorer II enables Stevens (left) and Anderson to give their instruments a preflight check. NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHER RICHARD H. STEWART ® N.G.S. Historic flight of Explorer II began at dawn on November 11, 1935. Rising from the Stratobowl near Rapid City, South Dakota, the helium-filled bag climbed to 72,395 feet above sea level, for 21 years the highest altitude reached by any manned craft. The Na tional Geographic Society and the United States Army Air Corps sponsored the venture.