Hi Jammers, Tierney checking in! After all this waiting, the solar eclipse is nearly here! I’ll be camping in the state of Idaho under the path of totality joined by a bunch of NASA friends. We’ll all have our special glasses on come Monday morning, August 21st. If you still need glasses, here are three groups selling approved pairs: Thousand Oaks Optical, Rainbow Symphony and American Paper Optics. (Remember don’t view the eclipse directly through other filters like sunglasses, smoked glass, DVDs or candy wrappers. The UV light from the sun can still stream through those and really hurt your eyes.)
I’ll be measuring lots of things before, during and after the eclipse like the temperature (it can drop 20 degrees F!), the winds (sometimes they stop altogether!) and animal movements. See my last blog posting about some of the funny things animals do during an eclipse. Some animals are driven mostly by a kind of inside clock that keeps track of day length and seasons and directs their behavior. Other animals are more sensitive to immediate light levels and base their behaviors on that key signal. Most animals use a mixture of both internal and external cues to guide their minute-to-minute and month-to-month behavior. The eclipse lets us perform a natural experiment to see which animals are most sensitive to big light changes.
There are lots of citizen science projects going on around the eclipse. One of my favorites is the Citizen C.A.T.E. project. C.A.T.E. stands for the Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse. This project involves a network more than 20 high schools, 20 universities, 5 national research labs, astronomy clubs around the country and more. Participants are using more than 60 telescopes to take images of the sun’s inner corona. The corona is the halo you can see around the sun during the eclipse. It’s made of plasma and is extremely hot --1.7 million degrees Fahrenheit!! CATE’s goal is to produce an amazing set of images to edit together into a 90 min high-resolution film of the sun’s inner corona. So if you aren’t in the US, you will be able to watch the movie. But if you live anywhere near the path of totality--here’s hoping you can help contribute to the movie and/or watch the real thing yourself!