What scientists can learn from Eclipse 2017
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — The solar eclipse on August 21st will be more than just a memorable sight.
A total solar eclipse gives scientists a unique opportunity to learn about the sun.
“I’m especially excited about getting to look at the solar corona. Because that is the part of the sun that I study,” says NASA research astrophysicist Dr. Nicholeen Viall.
Scientists collected more than 9,000 observations during a total solar eclipse in 1900 than only crossed the southeast. With totality crossing the entire country on August 21st, NASA has big plans.
“We have balloon experiments, we have ground based experiments. The eclipse, at any given location, only lasts about two minutes – the total solar eclipse – but it spans coast to coast and that takes about 90 minutes. So, by piecing together images of the eclipse at different locations you can piece together a movie of the eclipse that lasts about 90 minutes,” Dr. Viall continues.
Eleven spacecraft, more than 50 high-altitude balloons, and numerous ground-based observations programs are lined up – one telescope of 68 in the Citizen Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse (CATE) Experiment will be at Spring City Elementary and another at Sequoyah High School.
Dr. Viall adds, “The understanding that we’re hoping to gain during the solar eclipse by looking at the solar corona are things like why is the corona so hot, how is the magnetic energy dissipated in the corona. We also want to understand things like solar storms.”