August 19th, 2017

What you can see from Bucknell

This eclipse conveniently cuts across the continental US and a partial eclipse will be visible from every state.  You can use this interactive map http://xjubier.free.fr/en/site_pages/solar_eclipses/TSE_2017_GoogleMapFull.html to find out what people in your hometown will see. What will you see from campus? At 1:15 on the first day of classes, the partial eclipse will start. You probably won’t notice much at first because the photosphere is so bright, but by 2:40, about 75% of the sun will be covered by the moon. This is the maximum amount you will see in Lewisburg, and the partial eclipse will completely end by 4pm. […]

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August 13th, 2017

How to Observe the Eclipse

It is never safe to look directly at the sun, even when it is in eclipse.  So how can you observe the eclipse if you can’t look at it? One option is eclipse glasses (note, not sunglasses).  These look like 3D movie glasses, except the lenses are made from specially coated mylar, the same stuff we use on our solar filters for the telescopes.  The mylar will filter out 99.99% of the photons shining on it, temporarily changing the intensity of the sun to a reasonable amount for eyes.  Be sure that you get certified glasses, because uncertified ones may […]

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August 8th, 2017

Where We Go

The eclipse on the 21st starts on the west coast of the US and cuts all the way across to exit the continent in South Carolina.  The path of totality is only about 50 miles across, and it is estimated that between 1.85 and 7.4 million Americans will be traveling to this dark band to witness the event (https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/statistics/). Our team of 7 will be among this crowd.  We have two observing sites picked out: one in Tennessee and one in South Carolina.   The reason for the two sites? Different weather systems.  The eclipse is awesome, but if it’s […]

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July 27th, 2017

Meet the Student Team

Six students (including me!) will trek to the eclipse path.  Beginning in August, Ned and I will begin training on our equipment, communications, and of course, the theory. Everyone will be working hard to keep things going off without a hitch! My name is Cameron. I am a senior physics major, physics lab TA, residential adviser, multimedia consultant, CLIMBucknell facilitator, and KDR member. I will also be serving as the First Mate of the expedition, assisting with many of the cool telescopes and equipment. I am excited for this expedition because this is a once in a life time event […]

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July 22nd, 2017

Our Scientific Equipment

Observing the sun, we don’t need a big telescope for two reasons.  One, the sun is a large object, at least compared to other celestial objects, so we don’t need the high magnification that larger telescopes provide.  And two, the sun is very very bright, so we don’t need to collect an immense number of photons to gather the information we want.  In fact, the sun is so bright that we still need to put solar filters (specially coated mylar film) on top of all of our telescopes so we don’t hurt our eyes or break our cameras (ever used […]

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July 15th, 2017

One Way to Heat the Corona

The Sun’s corona is incredibly hot, with temperatures of 1-2 million degrees, and yet we don’t really understand how it’s heated. Thermonuclear fusion keeps the center of the Sun comparably hot, but between the Sun’s interior and its outer coronal layers lies the much cooler photosphere and chromosphere, where the temperature drops to a chilly 6000 degrees or so.  This cool layer sandwiched between the Sun’s interior furnace and its hot corona presents a problem for heating the corona. Heat can’t flow in its normal way through this cool zone, and so it’s difficult to understand how the energy can get […]

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July 1st, 2017

The Corona

The Sun’s corona (Latin for crown) is aptly named because it’s the faint halo we can see only during a total eclipse. One of the main goals of our expedition to view the eclipse in August is to study this ethereal region. The corona is extremely hot at 1,000,000 K, even hotter than the surface of the Sun, so one might think it would be bright. Unfortunately, this is not the case because while the corona is very hot, it is not particularly dense and so it’s too faint to see anytime other than during an eclipse. Because the corona […]

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June 23rd, 2017

Two Moons Away

Tonight at approximately 10:30 pm EDT, the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth. No eclipse though — the alignment isn’t quite right, and so instead it’s just a boring New Moon. New Moons are boring because the side facing us isn’t illuminated by the Sun, and so the Moon looks dark. There’s literally nothing to see. The Moon orbits the Earth while the Earth orbits the Sun, so a New Moon occurs once per orbit, or about once every 29.5 days (hence the term “month”). If the Moon’s orbit around the Earth and the Earth’s orbit around the […]

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June 19th, 2017

What is the eclipse?

On August 21, 2017, the Moon’s shadow will sweep across the continental US, an event otherwise known as a solar eclipse. From Earth’s perspective, the Moon and the Sun are just about the same size in the sky, which means that under special circumstances, the Moon can completely block the Sun’s light.  As a human, the solar eclipse is cool because it doesn’t happen very often (in the same location, only every 18 years and 11 and ⅓ days to be exact) and it looks pretty darn neat.  As a scientist, the eclipse offers a unique opportunity to study a […]

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