Ariella Scalese ’14: The Great American Eclipse

Ariella Scalese ’14, a meteorologist at WSAV News 3 in Savannah, GA, experienced the recent solar eclipse with a group of local students, using a weather balloon to capture photos and measure temperature, pressure, and humidity. Continue below for photos, video, and Ariella’s recap of the day.


A week before the big event, I was sitting in a meeting, listening to the schedule for the total solar eclipse, and half-way through the meeting, our evening anchor received an email from the head of public relations at a local school named St. Andrew’s. They invited WSAV to learn more about a special project they had planned for the solar eclipse. Our executive producer was immediately interested in covering the story. I added my two cents and said “we should send a meteorologist”, not thinking they would send me, but sure enough, they did.

I traveled to St. Andrew’s and learned more about the project. The idea was to send a weather balloon high in the atmosphere to capture pictures of the total solar eclipse. The students thought it would be a great idea to include weather equipment in order to measure temperature, pressure, and humidity, to see how these parameters would change during the eclipse.

St. Andrew’s invited us to travel with them to Camden, South Carolina and watch them release the balloon. We jumped on the opportunity and traveled just north of Columbia, where the eclipse would be in totality. We left cloudy and rainy Savannah, Georgia and drove north to sunshine — perfect weather for viewing the solar eclipse.

We met the students at the lake house (not a bad office for the day) and watched as they put together the finishing touches. The diversity within the group of students was incredible, from a cheerleader to coding genius — all types of teens were represented. The first time they tried to release the balloon, the box was too heavy, so the students had to quickly scramble and problem-solve. The second release was a success! They were a bit behind schedule, so they hurried on the bus and drove some 10 miles away to be able to view the eclipse in totality.

My photographer and I stayed at the lake house and were “live” during our station’s Solar Eclipse special. It was an incredibly peacefully experience, watching the bright lakeside turn dark for a few seconds.

I took Planetary Astronomy at Lehigh, but this was an experience you could never read about in a textbook.

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