According to the 1979 NASA publication A New Sun, "The white light coronagraph provided high resolution photographs of the corona in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum. To block out direct sunlight and reduce diffracted light to an acceptable level, three external occulting disks were employed. This allowed observations of the outer corona from 1.5 solar radii to a distance of 6 solar radii from the center of the Sun. The optical elements of the instrument also performed the function of variable vignetting, which enhanced faint outer corona detail and suppressed blooming in the bright inner corona. A precise brightness calibration of the data was obtained by imaging direct sunlight through an 18 step wedge filter. A TV camera in the instrument provided real-time pictures of the occulted Sun to the astronauts at the control console."
Thanks to this instrument, solar experts in space (Dr. Ed Gibson, Skylab 4 crew member, is a solar physicist by trade) and on Earth enjoyed spectacular images of the Sun's outer ring of fire. This wouldn't be the first (or last) time a spacecraft imaged or attempted to image an eclipse, simulated or otherwise. In July 1975, the U.S. Apollo spacecraft attempted to block out the Sun while being photographed by their Soviet counterparts during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission. However, this attempt to create an artificial eclipse had mixed results, as the Apollo spacecraft's thrusters in action disrupted the distribution of sunlight.
This Space Available hopes you enjoy tomorrow's eclipse safely and responsibly tomorrow! As for now, enjoy this walk down Skylab memory lane...
OKAY THESE ARE NOT ECLIPSE-RELATED IMAGES, BUT I'M GOING TO INCLUDE THEM ANYWAY BECAUSE SKYLAB (AKA BONUS IMAGES!):