Believe It or Not! Total Solar Eclipse Captured for Ripley’s Exhibit Collection

Converging art and astronomy, artist uses the power of the sun to create piece for Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Science & Technology
2 min
Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Believe It or Not! Total Solar Eclipse Captured for Ripley’s Exhibit Collection
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Science & Technology

As North America looked to the skies for April's celestial spectacle, an innovative art activation captivated audiences at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Blending science, art, and ancient photographic techniques, Michael Papadakis, also known as @Sunscribes , captured the total solar eclipse in his signature way — harnessing the power of the sun to create an unbelievable piece of art for Ripley’s exhibit collection.

Eclipse heliography art by Michael Papadakis
Using a technique known as heliography, Michael Papadakis uses an array of mirrors and lenses to focus the sun’s powerful rays onto a wooden canvas.

“With an event as rare as the Great North American Eclipse — only the second total solar eclipse in the U.S. in less than seven years — we knew we needed to capture it for the Ripley’s collection in some way,” said Director of Ripley’s Exhibit Collection, John Corcoran.

Harnessing the Sun

Using a technique known as heliography, Papadakis uses an array of mirrors and lenses to focus the sun’s powerful rays onto a wooden canvas. With meticulous preparation and constant movement, he can use a controlled burn like a paintbrush.

Michael Papadakis making his heliography eclipse art
Michael Papadakis worked on this piece of sunlight art for Ripley’s throughout the various phases of the 2024 total solar eclipse, holding the lens steady during totality to see what oddities appear through his lens as the moon fully eclipsed the sun.

Papadakis’s fusion of art and science is truly unbelievable and a testament to Ripley’s enduring fascination with the cosmos. Also in Ripley’s collection, you can find a 3,197-pound meteorite, the only book that’s been on the surface of the moon, and one of the company’s most expensive exhibits: the only surviving first-generation recordings of the Apollo 11 expedition, purchased at auction for $1.82 million.

An Ultra-Rare Occasion

But, immortalizing the fleeting moments of a total solar eclipse and transforming them into a masterpiece is no easy task.

Michael Papadakis making heliography eclipse art.
Blending science, art, and ancient photographic techniques, Michael Papadakis captured the 2024 total solar eclipse by harnessing the power of the sun to create an unbelievable piece of art for Ripley’s.

“In 2017 I was privileged to catch the total solar eclipse just outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming,” Michael Papadakis explained. “During that eclipse, I was able to focus sunlight and create a burn up until 99% of the sun’s rays were eclipsed by the moon. This year, thanks to Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, I was able to create a much larger piece of art — taking my time throughout the various phases of the eclipse, holding the lens steady during totality, discovering what oddities appear through my lens as the moon fully eclipsed the sun.”

Michael Papadakis looking at the partial eclipse.
Immortalizing the fleeting moments of the 2024 total solar eclipse, Michael Papadakis’ piece will be displayed at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in Grand Prairie, Texas, where it was created on April 8, 2024.

Papadakis’ total solar eclipse piece will soon go on display where it was created — at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in Grand Prairie, Texas.

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