Studying sun’s atmosphere at solar eclipse

earthsky.org | 8/17/2017 | EarthSky Voices
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Click For Photo: http://en.es-static.us/upl/2017/08/sun-atmosphere-corona-eclipse-300x169.jpg




A total solar eclipse gives scientists a rare opportunity to study the lower regions of the sun’s corona. These observations can help us understand solar activity, as well as the unexpectedly high temperatures in the corona. Image via NASA/S. Habbal, M. Druckmüller and P. Aniol.

A total solar eclipse happens somewhere on Earth about once every 18 months. But because Earth’s surface is mostly ocean, most eclipses are visible over land for only a short time, if at all. The total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, is different – its path stretches over land for nearly 90 minutes, giving scientists an unprecedented opportunity to make scientific measurements from the ground.

Moon - Moves - Front - Sun - August

When the moon moves in front of the sun on August 21, it will completely obscure the sun’s bright face. This happens because of a celestial coincidence – though the sun is about 400 times wider than the moon, the moon on August 21 will be about 400 times closer to us, making their apparent size in the sky almost equal. In fact, the moon will appear slightly larger than the sun to us, allowing it to totally obscure the sun for more than two and a half minutes in some locations. If they had the exact same apparent size, the total eclipse would only last for an instant.

A total solar eclipse lets NASA researchers try out technology that could one day aid in the development of future missions, however, they must flawlessly complete the experiment in a few short minutes, two to be exact. Via NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Genna Duberstein.

Eclipse - Sun - Outer - Atmosphere - Corona

The eclipse will reveal the sun’s outer atmosphere, called the corona, which is otherwise too dim to see next to the bright sun. Though we study the corona from space with instruments called coronagraphs – which create artificial eclipses by...
(Excerpt) Read more at: earthsky.org
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