Coordinated weather balloon solar radiation measurements during a solar eclipse

R. G. Harrison, G. J. Marlton, P. D. Williams, K. A. Nicoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (SciVal)


Solar eclipses provide a rapidly changing solar radiation environment. These changes can be studied using simple photodiode sensors, if the radiation reaching the sensors is unaffected by cloud.Transporting the sensors aloft using standard meteorological instrument packages modified to carry extra sensors, provides one promising but hitherto unexploited possibility for making solar eclipse radiation measurements. For the 20th March 2015 solar eclipse, a coordinated campaign of balloon-carried solar radiation measurements was undertaken from Reading (51.44N, 0.94W), Lerwick (60.15N, 1.13W) and Reykjavik (64.13N, 21.90W), straddling the path of the eclipse.The balloons reached sufficient altitude at the eclipse time for eclipse-induced variations in solar radiation and solar limb darkening to be measured above cloud. Because the sensor platforms were free to swing, techniques have been evaluated to correct the measurements for their changing orientation. In the swing-averaged technique, the mean value across a set of swings was used to approximate the radiation falling on a horizontal surface; in the swing-maximum technique, the direct beam was estimated by assuming the sensing surface becomes normal to the solar beam direction at a maximum swing. Both approaches, essentially independent,give values that agree with theoretical expectations for the eclipse-induced radiation changes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20150221
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2077
Early online date28 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2016


  • atmospheric science
  • meterology


Dive into the research topics of 'Coordinated weather balloon solar radiation measurements during a solar eclipse'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this