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Home / Science / The solar eclipse of astronomers: The solar eclipse of July 2 will cross professional observatories

The solar eclipse of astronomers: The solar eclipse of July 2 will cross professional observatories



Some of the world's largest telescopes will watch as the moon blocks the solar disk and unveils its corona on July 2, 2019.

Every look at the totality is fascinating, but the total solar eclipse in the South Pacific on 2 July, Chile and Argentina are particularly tempting for astronomers. Totality will pass through several of the best telescopes in the world, including the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), Gemini South, the La Silla Observatory and the future sites of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Giant Magellan Telescope.

  Simulation of a total solar eclipse in La Silla

Simulation of a total solar eclipse over the observatory of La Silla. (The simulation includes a clear sky, which is not guaranteed!)
M. Druckmüller / P. Aniol / K. Delcourte / P. Horálek / L. Calçada / ESO

When the moon blocks the solar disk, it reveals the white light of the outer solar atmosphere. This corona is the source of the magnetic storms that the sun sends in our direction. It is therefore the subject of intense research – mainly from outer space, where spacecraft use occult disks to block the sun. But a total solar eclipse lets us study this region from the ground. At the solar eclipse on July 2, professional astronomers can explore this region with some of the best telescopes in the world.

At CTIO, five groups of astronomers will observe the solar eclipse:

  • Jay Pasachoff (Williams College), Shadia Habbal (University of Hawaii & # 39; i) and their "Solar Wind Sherpas" will record corona spectra throughout to get information about their composition, temperature, density and movements.
  • Paul Bryan's (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research) and his team will analyze the polarization of near-infrared light from the corona to measure the sun's magnetic field. These measurements will complement another project, the Airborne Infrared Spectrograph, which measures coronal emission lines over most of the atmosphere that would otherwise absorb near infrared light.
  • Miquel Serra-Ricart (Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, Spain) We will observe how the Earth's atmosphere – especially the ionosphere – reacts to changes in temperature when the shadow of the Moon passes by.
  • Yoichiro Hanaoka (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan) will lead a team investigating the corona in close proximity to the visible surface of the Sun. Occult disk space telescopes often need to block regions that are much larger than the solar disk so they can not see this region well. By combining efforts with other observations on the path of totality, the period of time astronomers can observe this region is extended.
  • Read more about each of these experiments the community here. In collaboration with the CTIO, the Gemini South Observatory held school and public lectures on Eclipse viewing and photography. La Silla Observatory also has the opportunity to hold a public event inviting Chilean students and other members of the public to attend a sightseeing party, lectures and workshops.

    Other observatories not on the eclipse path, such as the Atacama Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Array (ALMA), are also deploying and distributing Eclipse glasses for the event. And they are not the only ones: Astronomers Without Borders, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing people around the world together through astronomy, also offers solar eclipse glasses – eyewear collected after the 2017 US Solar Eclipse were.

    Eclipse viewing – and experimentation – is weather dependent. (Unless you fly above the weather!) While humans may be moving to observe the eclipse from a different point of view, large observatories are not that mobile. So for all astronomers who are pointing up their telescopes on July 2: Clear sky!


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