By: April Carson
The cosmos often treats us to awe-inspiring celestial events, and one of the most captivating of these is a solar eclipse. In 2023 and 2024, North America is in for a treat with not one, but two extraordinary solar eclipses - an annular eclipse on October 14, 2023, and a total eclipse in April 2024. While these events are undoubtedly breathtaking, they also provide scientists with a unique opportunity to study the Sun's enigmatic corona, shedding light on one of the most intriguing mysteries of our universe.
The Great Eclipse Chase of 2017
In August 2017, a group of scientists embarked on an ambitious mission off the coast of South Carolina. Armed with a weather balloon, they aimed to float it above the clouds to ensure an unobstructed view of an impending total solar eclipse. The leader of this daring project was Angela Des Jardins, a physicist at Montana State University. Their objective was to observe the Sun's corona, the outermost layer of its atmosphere, which is typically only visible during a total solar eclipse.
However, their plans took an unexpected turn when a terrible storm struck. Despite the challenges posed by Mother Nature, this mission is a prime example of the determination and dedication of scientists to study the cosmos.
Angela Des Jardins recalled the experience, saying, "We faced many obstacles during that expedition. The weather was unpredictable, and the storm made it exceptionally challenging. But our determination to understand the Sun's corona drove us to persevere."
Balloons and the Quest for Knowledge
The team behind this project had launched a total of 55 balloons across the United States. These balloons, equipped with scientific instruments, were designed to capture data and imagery during the eclipse. As they completed their mission and popped, they parachuted back to Earth. However, not everything went according to plan, as many of these balloons got tangled in trees, requiring weeks of effort to recover them.
Despite these challenges, the data collected from these balloons during the eclipse proved invaluable to scientists. They provided a unique perspective on the Sun's corona and allowed researchers to gain insights into its behavior and dynamics.
Why Solar Eclipses Matter
Solar eclipses offer scientists a rare opportunity to study the Sun in ways that are typically impossible due to its blinding brightness. The Moon's shadow during an eclipse provides a natural "eclipse lab" for scientists to conduct experiments and make observations. This is especially crucial when it comes to the Sun's corona, which is still not fully understood.
Angela Des Jardins emphasized the significance of solar eclipses for scientific research, saying, "Eclipses are like cosmic laboratories. They allow us to study the Sun's outer atmosphere in ways that are otherwise impossible. By understanding the corona better, we can gain insights into solar activity, space weather, and even improve our ability to predict solar events that can affect our technology and infrastructure."
Looking Ahead: 2023 and 2024 Eclipses
As North America eagerly awaits the upcoming annular and total solar eclipses in 2023 and 2024, scientists are gearing up to take full advantage of these celestial spectacles. With improved technology and lessons learned from past eclipse missions, researchers are poised to uncover more of the Sun's secrets, particularly those related to the elusive corona.
Solar eclipses are not only breathtaking events that capture our imagination but also crucial opportunities for scientific discovery. The Great Eclipse Chase of 2017, despite its challenges, demonstrated the dedication of scientists to unravel the mysteries of the Sun. As we prepare for the next solar eclipses, we can look forward to a deeper understanding of our star and the universe it resides in, thanks to the intrepid pursuit of knowledge by scientists like Angela Des Jardins and her team.
Thoth - Enki and The Halls Of Amenti by Billy Carson
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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