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Get Ready for the Total Solar Eclipse!

Are you excited for the solar eclipse coming to parts of the United States on August 21? We are! Even though here in Vermont we'll only see about a 60 percent reduction in light, we're excited anyway!


 image credit: NASA

You might be one of the lucky ones who lives in or is traveling to a region that will see the total eclipse. If so, hope you booked your hotels or campsites early! Rooms have been booked years in advance of this celestial event. Why are people so eager to be a part of the 2017 solar eclipse? Are these really that rare?

Total solar eclipses do happen once a year or so, but often they are only partial eclipses and they can only be seen by viewers in a limited area--usually, that area is over empty ocean or sparsely populated regions, such as the top and bottom of the globe.

A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun and blocks the light of the sun. The United States is getting a rare chance to see this phenomenon up close and personal. And while there will be a plethora of pure celebration during the solar eclipse, there will also be loads of scientific investigation going on.

During a complete eclipse, the light drops to twilight levels and the temperature can drop between 10 and 15 degrees, too. How will this affect animal life? How will plants react? Scientists want to know and will be making scientific observations to see if any behavioral patterns are changed during the few minutes of weird light.

Farther away, a robotic scientist will be taking measurements on the moon's surface during the eclipse. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, is working hard to map the surface of the moon and will have an opportunity during the eclipse to "see" parts of the moon in a totally new way.

It's not just professional scientists getting ready to take advantage of the eclipse. Many students around the country, especially those in the path of the eclipse, have been preparing for this event for the past year. Many students are even planning to launch high-altitude balloons up into the atmosphere during the eclipse. You can track their discoveries at the Eclipse Ballooning Project.

What about the sun? An eclipse offers scientists a chance to observe the sun's atmosphere, which is usually inaccessible to us on Earth. The corona and chromosphere are two parts of the sun's atmosphere that scientists will pay special attention to during the eclipse

Excited? Us too! While no Nomads are able to make the trip, we do have some scouts in the field who will be taking pictures and writing up their impressions of the solar eclipse as it's happening. Check back for their discoveries!

For lots more information on the 2017 solar eclipse, check out these websites.

NASA's 2-17 eclipse site

Great American Eclipse


Tips for Educators

Eclipse Ballooning Project


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