This map of the continental United States shows the path of totality for the Great American Solar Eclipse on August 21. While a Partial Eclipse of the Sun will be observable over all 48 states, only in the narrow band (approximately 70.8 miles / 114 kilometers in width) will a Total Solar Eclipse be seen. Only in this narrow area can photographs of the two-minute total eclipse phase be included in the Eclipse Mega-Movie. (Map Source: NASA, Courtesy of Fred Espenak MrEclipse.com)
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
August 21 will be a special day in the United States, as the Great American Solar Eclipse will cross the entire country, from Oregon to South Carolina. Citizen Scientists (that is, all non-professionals interested in science who wish to assist scientists), who take photographs from inside the Eclipse path of totality, have the opportunity to help scientists learn more about the Solar Corona by submitting their Eclipse photos to the Eclipse Mega-Movie 2017 Project.
This is a unique opportunity for Citizen Scientists to help gather data on a part of the Sun that is rarely seen. The last time a Total Solar Eclipse crossed the United States was 99 years ago—on 1918 June 8. On that date, the Eclipse path of totality moved from Washington State across the country to Florida.
This is also the first time that Solar Eclipse totality has reached the continental United States since 1979 February 26. However, a Total Solar Eclipse did reach Hawaii on 1991 July 11. Most of the continental United States saw a Partial Eclipse of the Sun that day in 1991 (that was the last Solar Eclipse observed by the general public, using the historic 10-inch Siderostat-Type Refractor Telescope, at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science).
The Solar Corona is an aura of plasma, the outer atmosphere, that surrounds the Sun and other stars, and extends millions of miles or kilometers into space from the Sun. During a Total Eclipse of the Sun, or Total Solar Eclipse, such as the Great American Solar Eclipse that will occur on August 21, the Solar Corona can be seen, safely, with the unaided eye—BUT ONLY in the narrow path of totality (with a width on August 21 of approximately 70.8 statute miles / 114 kilometers) and during the very short period of the total phase of the Eclipse (in most cases on August 21, a little over two minutes), when the rest of the Sun is completely blocked by the Moon. At all other times it is extremely dangerous to a person's eye-sight to look at the Sun without proper equipment and proper training to do so safely.
Since it is very difficult to study the Solar Corona, except during a Total Solar Eclipse, scientists want to take full advantage of the long stretch of time the Eclipse will be observed in the United States next month, due to the great length of the Eclipse path of totality across the country. The Eclipse Mega-Movie 2017 Project hopes to gather photographs during the totality stage of the Eclipse from more than a thousand photographers and astronomers, from coast-to-coast.
There will be two sets of volunteers for two separate mega-movies. One set of volunteers will be specially trained for photographing the event. The second set of volunteers will be anyone with a camera or a cellular-telephone camera that chooses to take pictures of the event.
Approximately 1,500 trained, volunteer observers will be photographing the Eclipse, from sites along the path of totality, using digital, single-lens reflex cameras and specially prepared telescopes. The photographs from these observers will provide the high-quality mega-movie, that should be available to be viewed by the public later this year.
A lower-quality mega-movie will be produced by the photographs submitted by people using a regular camera or cell-phone camera. Although not as high-quality, this mega-movie should be available for public release much sooner.
Anyone can use a free-of-charge Eclipse Mega-Movie Mobile App to participate in this 2017 Project. This smart-phone app can be obtained, now, at the Google Play Store (Internet link to this mobile app at the end of this blog-post); an iOS app will soon also be available.
In both cases, all photographs submitted will be stitched together to form a motion picture showing the Eclipse as it traveled across the country from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast. From these two mega-movies, scientists hope to learn more about the Solar Corona, possibly including its relationship with the Sun's Chromosphere, and how it changes over time. When completed, both mega-movies are expected to run approximately 90 minutes.
Remember, the whole idea is to obtain images of the Great American Solar Eclipse during the totality phase. Only photographs taken within the Eclipse path of totality, and during the total phase of the Eclipse (when the Moon completely blocks-out the solar disk), can be submitted for inclusion in the Eclipse Mega-Movie. It would be more dangerous to eye-sight to try to photograph any of the partial phases of this Eclipse, and photographs of the partial Eclipse phases cannot contribute to the Eclipse Mega-Movie 2017 Project!
The Eclipse Mega-Movie 2017 Project is sponsored by Google's Making and Science Initiative and the University of California at Berkeley's Space Science Laboratory, along with several other partners including the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and Lick Observatory. The 2017 Project is led by Scott McIntosh from the National Center for Atmospheric Research's High Altitude Observatory and Hugh Hudson from the University of California at Berkeley.
After 2017, the next major Total Eclipse of the Sun to travel in the continental United States will run from Texas to Maine on 2024 April 8. Plans are already being made for a 2024 Eclipse Mega-Movie Project.
Internet Links to Additional Information ---
Eclipse Mega-Movie Project: Link >>> https://eclipsemega.movie/
Eclipse Mega-Movie Mobile App:
Link >>> https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ideum.com.megamovie
Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21:
Link 1 >>> https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEgoogle/SEgoogle2001/SE2017Aug21Tgoogle.html
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse_of_August_21,_2017
Solar Eclipse: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse
Solar Corona: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corona
Solar Chromosphere: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromosphere
More Citizen Science Projects:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/FAQ/citizenscience.html
Historic 10-inch Siderostat-Type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science:
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/11/75th-anniversary-americas-5th-public.html
Related Blog Post ---
"Strong Solar Flare Seen, Although Approaching Sunspot Minimum." 2017 July 15.
Safe Public Viewing of the Great American Solar Eclipse
Monday, August 21, 2017
Mt. Lebanon Public Library, South Suburban Pittsburgh
More Info: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm
Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
2017 July 24.
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