The first total solar eclipse in the continental United States in 38 years will happen Aug. 21, 2017, and it’s not too soon to learn about it and to begin making your plans and Amateur Radio Operators will help observe the Solar Eclipse in North America and provide date to scientist.

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The Path of the Total Eclipse

A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, causing the moon to temporarily cast its shadow on Earth, appearing to darken the sun.

The sun is 400 times larger than the moon, but it is also approximately 400 times farther away, making the sun and moon appears the same size during an eclipse.

The eclipse will cross the United States from Oregon to South Carolina in 94 minutes. The states in the path are Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina.

The total solar eclipse will enter South Carolina at 2:36 p.m. and leave the Atlantic coast at 2:49 p.m.

The only safe way to look directly at the eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun.

Viewers are warned to not look at the partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device even while using eclipse glasses or a hand-held solar viewer because the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and cause serious eye injury.

NASA says only four manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the international standard: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17.

Once the total eclipse happens, it is safe to look at it, and eclipse enthusiasts recommend you do. The corona is more visible to the naked eye than through binoculars, so it is recommended that for the more than 2 minutes of total eclipse, viewers simply look at it.

Some phenomena known to accompany eclipses include a stillness in the air and birds coming to roost and falling silent. There is often a 10 to 15 degree drop in temperature.

THE ECLIPSE IS NOT TOTAL IN HAWAII YOU MUST ALWAYS USE EYE PROTECTION TO VIEW THE ECLIPSE IF YOU ARE IN HAWAII! Oahu will have about 27% coverage and early morning, so get to the mainland to observe it.

On 21 August 2017, a total solar eclipse will cause the shadow of the moon to traverse the United States from Oregon to South Carolina in just over 90 minutes. As shown in Figure 1, this will be the one of most significant solar eclipses traversing the continental United States for 100 years. While solar eclipses are perhaps best known for their stunning visual display, the shadow of an eclipse also causes changes to the ionosphere which effect radio wave propagation and are useful for the study of ionospheric physics.

eclipse_map
Figure 1

Although the ionospheric effects of solar eclipses have been studied for over 50 years, many unanswered questions remain. Some include, “How much of the ionosphere is affected by the solar eclipse, and for how long? Why is this the case?” HamSCI is inviting amateur radio operators to participate in a large-scale experiment which will characterize the ionospheric response to the 21 August 2017 total solar eclipse and target these open questions in ionospheric physics.

Amateur Radio as a Scientific Instrument

Amateur radio operators routinely use frequencies spread across the medium and high frequency bands (1.8 – 30 MHz) to engage in two-way communications across large geographic areas. Details of these communications are recorded in private logs, as well as a public computer network known as the DX Cluster. Recent advances in information technology, signal processing, and software defined radio (SDR) have led to the development of automated observation and reporting systems such as the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN). It has been shown that data from these systems can be used to identify and characterize large-scale ionospheric disturbances [Frissell et al., 2014].

Summary

On 21 August 2017, a total solar eclipse will traverse the continental United States from Oregon to South Carolina in a period of just over 90 minutes. Previous research shows that the shadow of the eclipse will impact the ionospheric state, but has not adequately characterized or explained the temporal and spatial extent of the resulting ionospheric effects. HamSCI is inviting the amateur radio community to contribute to a large scale experiment by participating in an Eclipse QSO party and further developing automatic observation networks such as the Reverse Beacon Network. Data resulting from these activities will be combined with observations from existing ionospheric monitoring networks in an effort to characterize and understand the ionospheric temporal and spatial effects caused by a total solar eclipse.

 

Methodology

  • Illuminate the ionosphere with an Eclipse QSO Party.
  • Use networks such as the Reverse Beacon Network to collect data.
  • Use amateur radio data to complement data from other sources.

Path of Eclipse 22868704-mmmain

 

A good amateur radio related website for science can be found at: http://hamsci.org.

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