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Astronomers going full blast to pry Scientific ‘Secrets’ from the Upcoming Solar Eclipse and You Can Help Too!

Who knows? Maybe a great secret will come of this.

Ordinary people have been provided with and trained to use telescopes to observe the edge of the sun
**ATTN:PATRICK SISSON**Amateur astronomer Mike Conley practices on Aug. 3, 2017 with the telescope he will use to document this month’s total solar eclipse at his home in Salem, Oregon. Conley is part of a project led by the National Solar Observatory to have dozens of citizen-scientists posted across the U.S. Photograph during the Aug. 21 solar eclipse in an effort to create a live movie of its path that will help scientists learn more about the sun’s corona. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus) . VOA
  • Solar eclipses are known to reveal the mysteries of the universe
  • Upcoming solar eclipse to be examined to study changes in Earth’s weather and space weather among other things
  • Project called ‘Citizen CATE’ will allow ordinary citizens to assist astronomers in data gathering to observe the sun’s edge on the eclipse 

Washington, August 16, 2017: The sun is about to spill some of its secrets, maybe even reveal a few hidden truths of the cosmos. And you can get in on the act next week if you are in the right place for the best solar eclipse in the U.S. in nearly a century.

Astronomers are going full blast to pry even more science from the mysterious ball of gas that’s vital to Earth. They’ll look from the ground, using telescopes, cameras, binoculars and whatever else works. They’ll look from the International Space Station and a fleet of 11 satellites in space. And in between, they’ll fly three planes and launch more than 70 high-altitude balloons.

“We expect a boatload of science from this one,” said Jay Pasachoff, a Williams College astronomer who has traveled to 65 eclipses of all kinds.

Scientists will focus on the sun, but they will also examine what happens to Earth’s weather, to space weather, and to animals and plants on Earth as the moon totally blocks out the sun. The moon’s shadow will sweep along a narrow path, from Oregon to South Carolina.

Between NASA and the National Science Foundation, the federal government is spending about $7.7 million on next Monday’s eclipse. One of the NASA projects has students launching the high-altitude balloons to provide “live footage from the edge of space” during the eclipse.

Ordinary people can also participate to observe and collect evidence of the sun's edge
Students and faculty, including Mark Iewicz (center), a mechanical engineering student, prepare to test launch a camera-carrying balloon at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Conn. on Aug. 9,2017. The team from the University of Bridgeport and the University of Hartford are part a project that will send cameras into the stratosphere to photograph this month’s solar eclipse. (AP Photo/Pat Eaton-Robb). VOA

But it’s not just the professionals or students. NASA has a list of various experiments everyday people can do.

“Millions of people can walk out on their porch in their slippers and collect world-class data,” said Matt Penn, an astronomer at the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Arizona.

Penn is chief scientist for a National Science Foundation-funded movie project nicknamed Citizen CATE. More than 200 volunteers have been trained and given special small telescopes and tripods to observe the sun at 68 locations in the exact same way. The thousands of images from the citizen-scientists will be combined for a movie of the usually hard-to-see sun’s edge.

Mike Conley, a Salem, Oregon, stock trader whose backyard is studded with telescopes, jumped at the chance to be part of the science team.

“Who knows? Maybe a great secret will come of this, the mysteries of the sun will be revealed, because we’re doing something that’s never been done before and we’re getting data that’s never been seen before,” he said. “A big discovery will come and everybody will say, `Hey, we were part of that!”’

You don’t need to have telescopes to help out. You can use the iNaturalist app via the California Academy of Sciences and note the reaction of animals and plants around you. You can go to a zoo, like the Nashville Zoo, where they are asking people to keep track of what the animals are doing. The University of California, Berkeley, is seeking photos and video for its Eclipse Megamovie 2017, hoping to get more than 1,000 volunteers.

Even with all the high-tech, high-flying instruments now available, when it comes to understanding much of the sun’s mysteries, nothing beats an eclipse, said Williams College’s Pasachoff. That’s because the sun is so bright that even satellites and special probes can’t gaze straight at the sun just to glimpse the outer crown, or corona. Satellites create artificial eclipses to blot out the sun, but they can’t do it as well as the moon, he said.

The corona is what astronomers really focus on during an eclipse. It’s the sun’s outer atmosphere where space weather originates, where jutting loops of red glowing plasma lash out and where the magnetic field shows fluctuations. The temperature in the outer atmosphere is more than 1 million degrees hotter than it is on the surface of the sun and scientists want to figure out why.

“It’s ironic that we’ve learned most about the sun when its disk is hidden from view,” said Fred “Mr. Eclipse ” Espenak, a retired NASA astronomer who specialized in eclipses for the space agency.

And they learn other things, too. Helium – the second most abundant element in the universe – wasn’t discovered on Earth until its chemical spectrum was spotted during an eclipse in 1868, Espenak said.

But that discovery is eclipsed by what an eclipse did for Albert Einstein and physics.

Einstein was a little known scientist in 1915 when he proposed his general theory of relativity, a milestone in physics that says what we perceive as the force of gravity is actually from the curvature of space and time. It explains the motion of planets, black holes and the bending of light from distant galaxies.

Einstein couldn’t prove it but said one way to do so was to show that light from a distant star bends during an eclipse. During a 1919 eclipse, Arthur Eddington observed the right amount of bending, something that couldn’t be done without the moon’s shadow eclipsing the sun.

“It marked a complete change in the understanding of the universe,” said Mark Littmann of the University of Tennessee, a former planetarium director. “Bang. Right there.” (VOA)


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Oldest recorded solar eclipse occurred 3,200 years ago

Solar eclipse

Cambridge University researchers have pinpointed the date of what could be the oldest solar eclipse yet recorded. The event, which occurred on October 30, 1207 BC, is mentioned in the Bible, and could help historians to date Egyptian pharaohs.

“Solar eclipses are often used as a fixed point to date events in the ancient world,” said Professor Colin Humphreys from University of Cambridge’s Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy.

Using a combination of the biblical text and an ancient Egyptian text, the researchers were able to refine the dates of the Egyptian pharaohs, in particular, the dates of the reign of Ramesses the Great, according to the study published in the journal Astronomy & Geophysics.

The biblical text in question comes from the Old Testament book of Joshua and has puzzled biblical scholars for centuries.

It records that after Joshua led the people of Israel into Canaan, a region of the ancient Near East that covered modern-day Israel and Palestine – he prayed: “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon. And the Sun stood still, and the Moon stopped until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.”

“If these words are describing a real observation, then a major astronomical event was taking place – the question for us to figure out is what the text actually means,” Humphreys said.

“Modern English translations, which follow the King James translation of 1611, usually interpret this text to mean that the Sun and Moon stopped moving,” Humphreys said.

“But going back to the original Hebrew text, we determined that an alternative meaning could be that the Sun and Moon just stopped doing what they normally do: they stopped shining. In this context, the Hebrew words could be referring to a solar eclipse, when the Moon passes between the earth and the Sun, and the Sun appears to stop shining,” Humphreys said.

This interpretation is supported by the fact that the Hebrew word translated ‘stand still’ has the same root as a Babylonian word used in ancient astronomical texts to describe eclipses, he added.

Independent evidence that the Israelites were in Canaan between 1500 and 1050 BC can be found in the Merneptah Stele, an Egyptian text dating from the reign of the Pharaoh Merneptah, son of the well-known Ramesses the Great, the study said.

The large granite block, held in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, says that it was carved in the fifth year of Merneptah’s reign and mentions a campaign in Canaan in which he defeated the people of Israel.

Earlier historians had used these two texts to try to date the possible eclipse, but were not successful as they were only looking at total eclipses, in which the disc of the Sun appears to be completely covered by the moon as the moon passes directly between the earth and the sun.

What the earlier historians failed to consider was that it was instead an annular eclipse, in which the Moon passes directly in front of the Sun, but is too far away to cover the disc completely, the researchers said.

In the ancient world, the same word was used for both total and annular eclipses.

The researchers developed a new eclipse code, which takes into account variations in the Earth’s rotation over time.

From their calculations, they determined that the only annular eclipse visible from Canaan between 1500 and 1050 BC was on 30 October 1207 BC, in the afternoon.

If their arguments are accepted, it would not only be the oldest solar eclipse yet recorded, it would also enable researchers to date the reigns of Ramesses the Great and his son Merneptah to within a year.

Using these new calculations, the researchers determined that Ramesses the Great reigned from 1276-1210 BC, with a precision of plus or minus one year.(IANS)

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Rare Solar Eclipse Thrills People in the US: Why in India, ‘Surya Grahan’ is Considered Inauspicious?

It is recommended by IDPH ( Illinois Department of Public Health) not to look at Sun with regular sunglasses or other colored films that do not block all ultraviolet light

Solar eclipse in the United States of America was a matter of huge excitement in America
Solar eclipse thrills people in the United States of America. Pixabay
  • Solar eclipse is a phenomenon that occurs when the moon partially or fully blocks the sun while passing between sun and earth
  • People booked hotel rooms a year in advance to witness the eclipse that occurred in North America, on August 21, 2017
  • While in the United States of America, everyone was excited to see the solar eclipse, in Hinduism, it is considered inauspicious 

– by Dr Bharti Raizada

Chicago, August 25, 2017: Eclipse means total or partial obstruction of one celestial body by another or a loss of power, success, or popularity. Solar eclipse occurs when moon partially or fully blocks the sun while passing between sun and Earth. It happened on Aug. 21, 2017 in North America. There was so much excitement for this phenomenon. I heard that to see the eclipse, people booked hotel rooms a year in advance. On the day of eclipse, many people travelled and lot of traffic was on roads. At some places, it took people 4 hrs to drive 2 miles and some people even charged travelers’ up to $ 120 for a few minutes parking in their personal parking lots. In Chicago, there were four miles long lines to collect free special eclipse glasses from Adler Planetarium and Daley Plaza. As it was Monday, many people took off from work and children skipped school to enjoy this rare event. It was a cloudy day but still people were happy with whatever they got to see. There were speculations that stars would be visible during day time, however it did not happen.

It is recommended by IDPH ( Illinois Department of Public Health) not to look at Sun with regular sunglasses or other colored films that do not block all ultraviolet light.

Ways to see the Solar eclipse:
1. Special eclipse glasses-ISO-12312-2 compliant pair of special shades
2. No. 14 Welder’s glasses
3. Sun Funnel, which is a device which projects the light from Telescope and gives magnified image of sun on a screen
4. Pinhole box
5. Telescope with special filters

Effect Of Solar Eclipse: Eye Damage
1. Solar Retinopathy, which affects central vision, is caused by looking at sun directly. Usually it does not happen because of protective reflexes consisting of blinking and pupillary constriction and usually people do not look at sun continuously for a long period of time. During Eclipse, people stare at sun for longer periods and natural reflexes may not work as well, as the light is not so bright. There is no acute treatment. Vision, usually, slowly improves over days or months. Sometimes permanent damage to eye and blindness can result.
2. UV keratitis is inflammation of cornea. Symptoms are pain, blurred vision, light sensitivity etc. It usually occurs 6-12 hrs after the exposure and usually improves on its own over a few days.

Effects of Solar Eclipse on birds and animals:
Some scientists have reported in past that birds and animals start their evening routine when darkness happens during daytime. If this darkness occurs only for a couple of minutes, they get confused. Some animals daily routine gets disturbed, while some others are not affected by this change.

While solar eclipse in the United States of America, was a matter of immense excitement, in Hinduism, it is considered inauspicious and it is believed that everything on earth gets contaminated during Eclipse. This period of inauspiciousness is also called ‘sutak’. Sutak is usually for four ‘prahars’ or twelve hours, before the Grahan. During ‘sutak’ period, even the temple gates are closed.

Surya Grahan/Solar Eclipse occurs on Amavasya day. People do not eat any food during ‘sutak’ period. Already prepared food is saved by putting Tulsi leaves in it, as Tulsi is considered pious. Tulsi leaves are placed in remaining milk, Ghee, Salt etc. Pregnant women are advised not to do certain things like cutting and stitching. It is believed that if she does not follow certain guidelines, then baby can be born with birth defects or can have a birth mark. Birth mark on the unexposed body part is considered good, however, birthmark on exposed body part e.g. face, hands etc. is considered bad.

Also read: Millions Across US grab once-in-a-lifetime Opportunity of Experiencing a Rare Total Solar Eclipse

In the morning of Surya Grahan or Solar Eclipse day, people offer water, in a brass container, to Surya Bhagwan, Chant Om Suryay Namah and do three parikramas. They see sun rays in water and this act is considered good for eyes. People do not look at the Sun directly. Some people take water in a big container and look in it the image of Sun.

After the Surya Grahan/Solar Eclipse is over, people take bath, cook fresh food, donate food and other items to others, and feed birds and animals.

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August 21 Total Solar Eclipse to be Live-Streamed from US by Space India

This is a unique phenomenon. The path of the total solar eclipse will cut throughout the US and will be viewed by millions.

Space India
Total Solar Eclipse. Wikimedia
  • The Space India initiative will live stream the August 21 Total Solar Eclipe
  • The stream will be uploaded straight from the US
  • The stream will be available on Space India official Youtube Channel

August 14, 2017: People in India will be able to witness the August 21 total solar eclipse on a YouTube channel, thanks to an initiative by Space India.

The Delhi-based Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators, will live-stream the upcoming celestial event from the US, the company said in a statement on Saturday.

The solar eclipse — when the Moon completely covers the Sun, will cross the US from Oregon to South Carolina over the course of an hour-and-a-half, and 14 US states will experience night-like darkness for approximately two minutes in the middle of the day.

Also Read: NASA Declares Safety Rules For The Forthcoming Solar Eclipse

This is a unique phenomenon. The path of the total solar eclipse will cut throughout the US and will be viewed by millions.

“Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse,” said Sachin Bahmba, Chairman and Managing Director at Space Group, who is leading the team from India for the expedition.

Amateur astronomers such as Yogeshwar Kanu Aggarwal, Luv Sharma, and Surinder Solanki, will accompany Bahmba, whose expedition includes taking photographs of all important phases observed during a total eclipse — called as “contacts.”

The team will also be able to get unique and amazing features such as “Diamond Ring” and “Bailys’ Beads” — which happens as pinpoints of light are passed through the uneven features and craters of the Moon when the moon is covering the sun.

The experiments will include studying the corona of the Sun which is only visible during an eclipse.


“The corona… gives valuable information about the temperature of the Sun’s atmosphere. Besides, temperature on Earth is expected to fall during the eclipse. So, the temperature will be recorded at different stages,” Bahmba explained.

The live streaming will be done from Idaho in the US using a 50 mm f/5 finderscope, a small auxiliary telescope mounted on an Astrotrac tracker — the main astronomical telescope — to follow the Sun.

The device will have a webcam and a solar filter fitted to it, which will enable streaming directly on the official YouTube channel of Space India and will also be available on the organisation’s website.

Space India recently organised a series of online interactions with Padma Y. Fisher, Senior Research Scientist at the Space Science Institute, California, to take students, researchers, and astronomers through a detailed experience of the total solar eclipse.

The interaction consisted of an interesting presentation on Total Solar Eclipse containing the information on different types of eclipses, reasons behind them, research work going on in this field.

Fisher will be heading a Citizen Science Experiment, on August 21, that is one of the 11 ground-based experiments being supported by NASA.

Space India had also conducted similar expeditions during other total solar eclipse in 2009 and annular solar eclipse in 2010. [IANS]