Scientists travel all across the globe to experience and capture a total solar eclipse. But tomorrow, the total solar eclipse is coming to them. The NSF Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory is nestled 7,200+ feet in the Andes in Chile. And tomorrow, it will enjoy 2 minutes and 6 seconds of totality as the Moon sweeps between the Earth and Sun.
Here’s an image of where totality can be seen from (the darkest red shade).
Every total solar eclipse gives scientists another chance to study the Sun’s inner corona, and they aren’t going to let this extraordinary opportunity pass them by. Five teams were chosen to perform experiments inside this two-minute window.
One group, led by Jay Pasaschoff (Williams College) will continue an experiment that stretches back more than 20 years. Pasachoff’s team will be gathering measurements of the corona’s shape, temperature, and color.
“The Sun varies from day to day, and also over the 11-year solar cycle. Each glimpse we get of the Sun during a total solar eclipse—only a couple of minutes every 18 months or so—gives us a different set of features to look at,” says Pasachoff.
The team hopes NSF’s observatory elevation helps give them an even clearer view then they are used to.
While four teams will use the observatory’s instruments to view the Sun, the fifth team will focus on what’s happening around them. M. Serra-Ricart’s team (from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands) will monitor changes in the Earth’s atmosphere from temperature to changes in the ionosphere.
“Although the ionospheric effects of solar eclipses have been studied for over 50 years many unanswered questions remain. We know roughly how this happens, but not precisely. The eclipse will give researchers a chance to examine the charging and uncharging process in almost real time,” says M. Serra-Ricart.
For anyone living in, or near totality, here’s a handy website to see when the total solar eclipse starts for you. Make some time to see it, or travel to a spot in totality if you’re close enough. I made the drive to see the eclipse in 2017, and it was one of the most remarkable sights I’ve ever seen.
For everyone else, there will be plenty of live streams of tomorrow’s total solar eclipse. NASA is hosting a one-hour program with live commentary in English (and Spanish) starting at 4 pm EDT on July 2.
Slooh is also celebrating the recent relaunch of its website by hosting a livestream of tomorrow’s eclipse. Their observatory isn’t quite located in the path of totality, but they are teaming up with their partners to bring us views of the total solar eclipse.
As for us in the U.S.? The next total solar eclipse in the won’t be until April 8, 2024 when the Moon’s shadow passes over a thin sliver stretching from Texas to Maine.