CSU Researchers To Take Advantage of Solar Eclipse This Month

Space Center to Webcast the Eclipse, Which Will be Simulcast in University Hall Auditorium

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Five teams from Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center and the Department of Earth and Space Sciences are preparing to fan out across the country to photograph and video the solar eclipse later this month.

One of those researchers will be making the trip as part of a National Science Foundation project to study weather and atmospheric data during the eclipse.

According to space.com, the “Great American Total Solar Eclipse” will occur on Monday, Aug. 21, and will “darken skies all the way from Oregon to South Carolina, along a stretch of land about 70 miles wide. People who descend upon this ‘path of totality’ for the big event are in for an unforgettable experience.”

To capture the event, 13 CSU researchers will be stationed at different points along the path, from Wyoming to South Carolina.

Scott Gunter, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences, will be taking seven students to Grand Island, Nebraska to collect meteorological data during the eclipse. The project, dubbed ARTSE (Atmospheric Response to a Total Solar Eclipse), will seek to measure how different atmospheric variables, including temperature, moisture, turbulence, and atmospheric gas concentrations, change with the temporary blocking of the sun. Sophisticated “flux” measurement systems will be used to make the measurements.

“A tremendous and relatively rare opportunity for both research and education,” Gunter said. “This project offers a diverse department at CSU the chance to bring students to the field to participate in cutting-edge, hands-on research.”

When the eclipse happens during the early afternoon on the 21st, only a narrow swath of the United States will be completely darkened. But the eclipse can be viewed in some fashion by most of the country.

CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center is scheduling an afternoon of eclipse-watching activities at their center downtown, and warn that anyone who wants to observe the event must protect their eyes.

“In Columbus, the eclipse will be partial with 92% of the Sun’s area blocked,” said Shawn Cruzen, executive director of the space center, and a CSU astronomy professor. “This partial eclipse will cover enough of the Sun to make a beautiful sight in the sky, but it is not totality and it is NOT safe to observe without protection.”

He said the images and videos collected by the CSU researchers planning to cover the eclipse across the country will lead to student research projects, an original planetarium show, and a global webcast during the eclipse.

The Space Center’s webcast will feature live images from their observatory in downtown Columbus, and live feeds from CSU teams in the path of totality in Nebraska and Missouri (weather and technology dependent). The webcast will be hosted (narrated) by Michael Johnson from the center. The webcast will begin at 1 p.m. and end shortly after 4 p.m. with the time of last contact in Columbus at about 4:07 p.m. Officials will simulcast the webcast onto a large video screen inside University Hall Auditorium, which will be open to the public.

“This is pretty cool stuff, and I think aligns perfectly with our current academic priorities,” Cruzen said.

For more activities and information surrounding the eclipse and webcast, go to http://www.ccssc.org/2017eclipse.html