On August 21 2017, there will be a total solar eclipse when the moon passes in front of the sun and casts its shadow on parts of the earth. The eclipse will fall across Northwest United States and pass the country diagonally until it reaches the Southeast. The path of the total solar eclipse will be through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Caroline, and South Carolina. These states will experience total solar eclipse when the moon engulfs the sun and turns day into night.

The eclipse will last only about two minutes, but it is the opportunity of a lifetime to see the sun and try to understand it. The corona, the white outer atmosphere of the sun, burns at more than a million degrees and is hotter than the solar surface beneath it. By studying the corona, scientists hope to better understand what causes the extreme heat and the violent eruptions.

Eric Christian, one of the NASA scientists, said that the main two goals during this time are to understand why the corona is hotter than the surface, and why the solar wind gets accelerated up to a million miles an hour.”

Observing the sun and its corona is a preview of the solar data to come over the next decade when NASA launches the Parker Solar Probe, a spacecraft that will probe the plasma by dipping into the corona. It will venture within 4 million miles of the sun’s surface by 2024, which is a significantly better vantage point when compared to 93 million miles during the total solar eclipse.

St.Fleur, Nicholas. “Summer Solstice: A Great Moment to Ponder the Sun.” New York Times (New York, NY), June 20, 2017. Accessed July 7, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/20/science/summer-solstice-june-21.html.

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