The U.S. will see an amazing total solar eclipse in 2017
IDG News Service | Mar 9, 2016
If the views of this week’s total solar eclipse in Asia made you wish you could see one and you’re in the U.S., mark your calendar for August 21, 2017. For the first time in almost 100 years, a total solar eclipse will travel from coast to coast across the U.S.
If the views of this week’s total solar eclipse in Asia made you wish you could see one and you’re in the U.S., mark your calendar for August 21, 2017.
For the first time in almost 100 years, a total solar eclipse will travel from coast to coast across the U.S.
Most of the country will be within driving distance, so I asked NASA Astrophysicist David Hathaway should we go and see it?
"You must. If you can, you must. It's just such a spectacle in every sense. The sky goes dark in the middle of the day, you see stars, all of the animals know that something is going on, they'll quiet down, and the ones I've been to, the people get very quiet. It’s really surprising. As it gets darker and darker and when you finally see the Sun’s corona, which is only visible during a solar eclipse, you hear everyone talking in hushed tones. It’s really a spectacle that if it weren’t for our ability to travel most people would never see one.”
For people like Hathaway, eclipses mean much more than just beauty. They are invaluable chances to study the sun’s corona. That’s the outer part of the Sun’s atmosphere and for reasons scientists don’t understand, it’s thousands of times hotter than the lower atmosphere.
“A total solar eclipse allows us to see the very base of that atmosphere where the action is happening, where the heating is going on and it allows us to better understand why the surface of the sun is only 10,000 degrees and the corona is up to 10 million degrees.”
And this is why NASA needs to understand the Sun better. This is a coronal mass ejection, a billion tons of matter blasted off the Sun at a million miles a hour, and they are difficult to predict. When these particles hit the Earth, they’re responsible for the northern lights phenomena but can also pose danger.
“That stuff when it strikes the near Earth environment can take out electronics on satellites, it can produce surge of current through power lines on Earth and take out transformers, take out power, and now we’re a technological civilization it can really affect us more than it did before because of its effect on our technology.”
So, mark your calendars, ask your boss for the day off, book hotels on August 21, 2017. It’s going to be great and you won’t want to miss it. And while you’re enjoying it, remember all the science taking place too.