Bessie Coleman

Black Sun 2012: The Documentary; The Art of Chasing Solar Eclipses and Dreams

Black Sun 2012: The Documentary Logo

Black Sun 2012: The Documentary; The Art of Chasing Solar Eclipses and Dreams more
Directed By Kelvin Phillips and Jarita Holbrook

"BLACK SUN” is a feature-length documentary that follows two African American astrophysicists as they conduct studies of the Sun’s corona during the two 2012 solar eclipses: Dr. Alphonse Sterling of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center—stationed in Japan, a man who had early success in the US, but left his home country to further cultivate his wide-ranging interests; Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi of the Physics & Space Sciences department at the Florida Institute of Technology—a scientist who beat the odds of poverty, homelessness, single-parent, poor early education, to get where he is today. 

The film focuses primarily on the scientists’ pursuit of data best captured during the totality of a total solar eclipse. The two scientists hope to use this data to research some of the Sun’s mysteries, such as the Coronal Heating Problem and Solar Wind Acceleration as they travel across three continents, praying for clear skies and hoping to capture the elusive totality of the “Black Sun”. Shot in a fast-paced yet informative style, this film explores how and why the two men became astrophysicists, their opposing paths and personalities, their struggles as minorities in a STEM field, and their noteworthy accomplishments. The film will expose the viewer up close and personal to the emotional experience eclipse "chasers"--and scientists--get from observing solar eclipses in exotic locations (Japan and Australia).

Equally important for Black Sun, like Bessie Coleman’s drive, is the desire to inspire America's youth, especially those in underserved populations. The film accomplishes this by documenting the scientists’ lives, successes, and failures. While we meet the scientists at the top of their professions, we also learn how they grew from being curious youths, to Ph.D. astrophysicists. Black Sun explores how and why the two men became scientists, their opposing paths and personalities, and their struggles as minorities in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) field.

Black Sun is for a general audience, but it is being created for our future – America’s children – especially those underserved communities whose math and science talents might be overlooked. The two scientists personal unveilings will intrigue and engage young people in these communities. Further, Alphonse and Hakeem exhibit different styles and personalities, dispelling the belief that only one type of person can become a successful scientist. Therefore, by following the two astrophysicists as they chase the two eclipses, it is the filmmakers’ goal to motivate young people so that they seek out their own incredible scientific journeys.