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 part of the Sun that we can’t easily observe otherwise.
With a team of students and professors, Ned Ladd and I are planning to travel to the path of the total solar eclipse to make some scientific measurements. We have picked out two possible campsites (one in Tennessee, the other in South Carolina) where we can set up telescopes and cameras to take a closer look and record this rare event. Afterwards, we will study the images, and hopefully better understand the Sun.