On Friday, March 31, and Saturday, April 1, the fifth and final meeting of the American Astronomical Society 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Task Force took place in Columbia, South Carolina. As with previous meetings, the public was welcome and was welcome to attend freely. Task force members tailored their talks in the mornings for the general public. We got more specific and detailed during the afternoon sessions.
As I post this podcast, the eclipse is a scant 136 days away. Are we having fun yet? As I look back over the past three years, every major thing I did and every place I traveled had something to do with the eclipse. About eight months ago, I posted a similar podcast, but practicing for the upcoming spectacle is so important that I thought I’d go over some of the points I made.
Kate Russo is, first and foremost, totally dedicated to getting the word out about eclipses. She also has supported this podcast series by telling people on several continents about it. As a professional psychologist who has done eclipse-related research, recently, she shared some of her thoughts about the upcoming eclipse, and I thought it would be valuable to summarize them in this podcast.
Thirty-one outreach projects in 21 states are receiving mini-grants up to $5,000 from the American Astronomical Society (the AAS). The money will be used to prepare the public for the eclipse. This nationwide educational effort is funded by the National Science Foundation and administered by the AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force. I thought I'd tell you about some of the winners.
The University of California, Berkeley, and Google are looking for citizen scientists to document the eclipse in a “megamovie,” and help scientists learn about the Sun in the process. The project is seeking more than a thousand amateur astronomers and avid photographers to record the August 21 total solar eclipse.
I want to tell you about an exciting project that has the potential to produce something related to a total solar eclipse that no one has seen before. From even the best location, totality lasts only 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Unfortunately, this doesn’t allow detailed study of slow changes in the corona, the Sun’s thin outer atmosphere. To extend the time of study, the Citizen Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse (CATE) Experiment will use 60 identical telescopes positioned across the country to image the Sun’s corona.
Eclipse aficionado Alan Whitman of Toronto, Canada, has given veteran eclipse-chasers something to think about. He says after you have several eclipses under your belt you may decide to concentrate on a particular phenomenon that you have not yet seen. At the 2009 total eclipse in Wuhan, China his priority was to see detail on the Moon. Hmm. Has anyone done that?
A few days ago, I got an email from Robert Stinnett who runs the 2017solar.com website. He asked if we could help get the word out about the 200,000 solar eclipse viewing glasses freebies he’s giving away as part of a project to honor his late parents. Wow! What a worthy effort. You bet we'll help.