I'm still working on the 'Exoplanet Discovery' article, but I wanted to share some information on the upcoming North American Eclipse slated for Aug 21, 2017 @ 2:33pm to 2:45pm in Atlanta, GA.
First Off, a nice professional info graphic with all the information you need to show you the right time and patch to view the eclipse:
Even from our work location we will see about a 97% Eclipse which will look like this (READ FURTHER DOWN FOR VIEWING SAFETY INFO):
So from grade school science class we learned that an eclipse is when another planet or moon blocks or partially blocks our sun from the perspective of an Observer (Notice how I didn't say Earth Observer.....):
For the purpose of this article though, I thought I'd share some more obscure information on eclipses you might not of known which you might find interesting as well as some really neat images of Eclipses from other perspectives. So lets dive right in!!!
Q. How come Solar Eclipses don't happen every month?
A. Because of the Moon's 5 degree relative tilt in respect to Earth, a favorable Solar eclipse is a relatively rare event.
So you can see how our own Earth tilt and continual spin mixed with the Moon's tilt make such events quite a rare occurrence to have the timing match up. In fact, the next Solar Eclipse for the United States will not occur again until October 14, 2023.
Q. How can I view the eclipse safely?
A. The are 2 widely used methods which I will explain below.
1. Direct viewing is possible with the correct filtered eye protection that has been registered as ISO Compliant. These filters block out about 99.999% of visible light. And yes, 0.001% of the light is all you need to view the solar eclipse. I went to Lowe's and picked up these glasses for only $2.
The lens are coated with a very thin layer of anodized silver which protects you from the harmful levels of UV light when looking into the sun. I will also most likely have my telescope setup taking pictures of the eclipse with a solar filter and my personal laptop hooked up to the view finder to take live images of the eclipse if you want to join me. I will most likely setup on the top floor of the parking deck as the Eclipse will be off to the North-Easterly direction (basically directly over the Macy's portion of Perimeter mall from that perspective).
2. The other option is one that I used in grade school during the last eclipse:
This is a great DIY solution, but far less convenient than just putting a pair of filtered glasses on over your eyes Just remember to only look at the paper the pinhole projects on too. Never try to line it up looking through the pinhole with a naked eye. It only takes a few milliseconds to permanently damage your eyesight viewing the Sun without proper protection.
Q. Do eclipses occur on other planets in our Solar System?
A. Yes, all the time. We can see these eclipses via Rovers on other planets and even orbiting astronauts can view the path the Eclipse as it passes over Earth.
This picture was taken by low resolution black and white hazard avoidance camera's on the Curiosity Rover which is currently exploring the surface of Mars:
The object you see transiting the Sun is Phobos, an orbiting moon of Mars. Phobos is quite oblong as it does not have the mass anywhere near our own moon. For relative comparison, Phobos is 14 miles wide on average, while our own moon is 2,160 miles wide on average.
And the next picture is Earth viewed from the ISS as a Solar Eclipse makes it's way across the Surface of Earth:
Kind of eerie if you ask me. But this is what it looks like from an orbital perspective.
The final thing I want to share is about the Scientific Benefits of Solar Eclipses:
Q. How can scientists use the Solar Eclipse to learn more about the sun?
A. During the Eclipse scientists can view finer structures and motions in the Corona of the Sun usually obscured by the intense light given off otherwise.
In addition to direct observations of the Sun's corona, scientists will be looking for near Sun asteroids we are unable to detect any way else. During this short window, higher resolution pictures and measurements of Mercury can also be taken.
Well, that's enough info for this science email, if you have any further questions, I would be glad to answer them or research them for you about the upcoming Eclipse.
Feel free to reply directly or by stopping by my desk for a short chat.