What an Astronomer from Metro East is Seeking During the April 8 Solar Eclipse


Astronomer Pamela Gay of the Planetary Science Institute in Edwardsville, Illinois has shared insights about the upcoming total solar eclipse on April 8th. Though such an event happens somewhere on Earth yearly, each location experiences it only once every 330 years. This makes witnessing a total solar eclipse a rare occurrence for many people, particularly those who cannot afford to travel globally to witness the phenomena. Carbondale, Illinois, is uniquely positioned to benefit from this, having been in the Path of Totality in 2017 and again this April.

Gay also mentioned that anyone observing the eclipse has the opportunity to contribute to NASA’s data collection. There are two recommended apps for this purpose. The first, “Totality,” provides a global map and details about the Path of Totality for the upcoming event. Users can use the app to find out when partial totality will commence and end, and if they are in the path, when totality will start and finish. The app also provides directions to the nearest spot to witness totality based on the user’s location.

Another app, “Soundscapes,” allows users to document animal behaviors during the eclipse. As Gay explains, the event can confuse wildlife, with nocturnal creatures becoming active and others preparing to roost, believing it to be twilight.

It’s important to note that during a partial eclipse, solar glasses should not be removed, even at 99% totality. The only safe time to remove these glasses is during total eclipse, for those in the Path of Totality.

Gay has recently co-authored a book on how small towns in the Path of Totality are dealing with population surges during the eclipse. The book, sponsored by the American Astronomical Society, is available for free.

Gay herself will be providing commentary for the Weather Channel from the football stadium at SIU-Carbondale during the upcoming total solar eclipse.



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