The Science Friday segment below is from earlier this year, produced in anticipation of the upcoming #SolarEclipse that will traverse the North American continent on August 21st.
A solar eclipse taken in Svalbard on March 20, 2015. Credit: Miloslav Druckmuller, Peter Aniol and Shadia Habbal
On August 21, thousands of people will line up across the country from Corvallis, Oregon, to Goose Creek, South Carolina, to catch a glimpse of a total solar eclipse. As the moon passes between Earth and the sun and the summer sky briefly goes dark, what will scientists be observing about our nearest star?
Astronomer Shadia Habbal has observed solar eclipses from locales across the globe, including Indonesia, the Faroe Islands, and India. The event provides an opportunity for her to study the temperature of the sun’s atmosphere by using a camera to watch how ions move within the corona.
And astronomer Matt Penn manages the project Citizen CATE (Continental America Telescopic Eclipse), which will coordinate citizen scientists in 60 different locations across the country to snap a panoramic photo of the solar eclipse as it occurs. He’ll use this data to create better models about the velocities of solar winds.
Habbal and Penn discuss the research that will be happening during the eclipse and describe what it’s like to experience sudden darkness in the mid-afternoon.