Monday, July 24, 2017

Citizen Science: Aug. 21 Great American Solar Eclipse Mega-Movie Project

https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEmono/TSE2017/TSE2017fig/TSE2017-usa.jpg
This map of the continental United States shows the path of totality for the Great American Solar Eclipse on August 21. While a Partial Eclipse of the Sun will be observable over all 48 states, only in the narrow band (approximately 70.8 miles / 114 kilometers in width) will a Total Solar Eclipse be seen. Only in this narrow area can photographs of the two-minute total eclipse phase be included in the Eclipse Mega-Movie. (Map Source: NASA, Courtesy of Fred Espenak MrEclipse.com)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

August 21 will be a special day in the United States, as the Great American Solar Eclipse will cross the entire country, from Oregon to South Carolina. Citizen Scientists (that is, all non-professionals interested in science who wish to assist scientists), who take photographs from inside the Eclipse path of totality, have the opportunity to help scientists learn more about the Solar Corona by submitting their Eclipse photos to the Eclipse Mega-Movie 2017 Project.

This is a unique opportunity for Citizen Scientists to help gather data on a part of the Sun that is rarely seen. The last time a Total Solar Eclipse crossed the United States was 99 years ago—on 1918 June 8. On that date, the Eclipse path of totality moved from Washington State across the country to Florida.

This is also the first time that Solar Eclipse totality has reached the continental United States since 1979 February 26. However, a Total Solar Eclipse did reach Hawaii on 1991 July 11. Most of the continental United States saw a Partial Eclipse of the Sun that day in 1991 (that was the last Solar Eclipse observed by the general public, using the historic 10-inch Siderostat-Type Refractor Telescope, at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science).

The Solar Corona is an aura of plasma, the outer atmosphere, that surrounds the Sun and other stars, and extends millions of miles or kilometers into space from the Sun. During a Total Eclipse of the Sun, or Total Solar Eclipse, such as the Great American Solar Eclipse that will occur on August 21, the Solar Corona can be seen, safely, with the unaided eye—BUT ONLY in the narrow path of totality (with a width on August 21 of approximately 70.8 statute miles / 114 kilometers) and during the very short period of the total phase of the Eclipse (in most cases on August 21, a little over two minutes), when the rest of the Sun is completely blocked by the Moon. At all other times it is extremely dangerous to a person's eye-sight to look at the Sun without proper equipment and proper training to do so safely.

Since it is very difficult to study the Solar Corona, except during a Total Solar Eclipse, scientists want to take full advantage of the long stretch of time the Eclipse will be observed in the United States next month, due to the great length of the Eclipse path of totality across the country. The Eclipse Mega-Movie 2017 Project hopes to gather photographs during the totality stage of the Eclipse from more than a thousand photographers and astronomers, from coast-to-coast.

There will be two sets of volunteers for two separate mega-movies. One set of volunteers will be specially trained for photographing the event. The second set of volunteers will be anyone with a camera or a cellular-telephone camera that chooses to take pictures of the event.

Approximately 1,500 trained, volunteer observers will be photographing the Eclipse, from sites along the path of totality, using digital, single-lens reflex cameras and specially prepared telescopes. The photographs from these observers will provide the high-quality mega-movie, that should be available to be viewed by the public later this year.

A lower-quality mega-movie will be produced by the photographs submitted by people using a regular camera or cell-phone camera. Although not as high-quality, this mega-movie should be available for public release much sooner.

Anyone can use a free-of-charge Eclipse Mega-Movie Mobile App to participate in this 2017 Project. This smart-phone app can be obtained, now, at the Google Play Store (Internet link to this mobile app at the end of this blog-post); an iOS app will soon also be available.

In both cases, all photographs submitted will be stitched together to form a motion picture showing the Eclipse as it traveled across the country from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast. From these two mega-movies, scientists hope to learn more about the Solar Corona, possibly including its relationship with the Sun's Chromosphere, and how it changes over time. When completed, both mega-movies are expected to run approximately 90 minutes.

Remember, the whole idea is to obtain images of the Great American Solar Eclipse during the totality phase. Only photographs taken within the Eclipse path of totality, and during the total phase of the Eclipse (when the Moon completely blocks-out the solar disk), can be submitted for inclusion in the Eclipse Mega-Movie. It would be more dangerous to eye-sight to try to photograph any of the partial phases of this Eclipse, and photographs of the partial Eclipse phases cannot contribute to the Eclipse Mega-Movie 2017 Project!

The Eclipse Mega-Movie 2017 Project is sponsored by Google's Making and Science Initiative and the University of California at Berkeley's Space Science Laboratory, along with several other partners including the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and Lick Observatory. The 2017 Project is led by Scott McIntosh from the National Center for Atmospheric Research's High Altitude Observatory and Hugh Hudson from the University of California at Berkeley.

After 2017, the next major Total Eclipse of the Sun to travel in the continental United States will run from Texas to Maine on 2024 April 8. Plans are already being made for a 2024 Eclipse Mega-Movie Project.

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

Eclipse Mega-Movie Project: Link >>> https://eclipsemega.movie/

Eclipse Mega-Movie Mobile App:
Link >>> https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ideum.com.megamovie

Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21:
Link 1 >>> https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEgoogle/SEgoogle2001/SE2017Aug21Tgoogle.html
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse_of_August_21,_2017

Solar Eclipse: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse

Solar Corona: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corona

Solar Chromosphere: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromosphere

More Citizen Science Projects:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/FAQ/citizenscience.html 

Historic 10-inch Siderostat-Type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science:
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/11/75th-anniversary-americas-5th-public.html

Related Blog Post ---

"Strong Solar Flare Seen, Although Approaching Sunspot Minimum." 2017 July 15.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2017/07/strong-solar-flare-seen-although.html


     Safe Public Viewing of the Great American Solar Eclipse
                         Monday, August 21, 2017
     Mt. Lebanon Public Library, South Suburban Pittsburgh
More Info: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2017 July 24.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
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                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
TransportWatchtower Blog: < http://transportwatchtower.blogspot.com  >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Strong Solar Flare Seen, Although Approaching Sunspot Minimum

animation of SDO observations of a sunspot
A major Sunspot (AR2665) turns toward the Earth on July 13, after the Sun was spotless for two days. A powerful Solar Flare is now headed towards Earth, which will cause an atmospheric geomagnetic storm this weekend.
(Image Sources: NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center / NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory Satellite; Producer: Joy Ng)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

After turning towards the Earth in the last few days, large Sunspot AR2665 emitted a large solar flare late on Thursday (July 13). This is despite the fact that the Sun continues getting quieter as it approaches Solar Minimum, the nadir expected around 2019-2020.

This solar blast was observed by ultraviolet telescopes aboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite in Earth orbit. The explosion lasted for more than two hours. It resulted in sustained X-Rays and energetic protons, emitted from the Sun, ionizing the upper layers of Earth's atmosphere. Consequently, there were short-wave radio blackouts over the Pacific Ocean, and particularly in the Arctic region. The explosion also produced a bright coronal mass ejection (CME) that appears headed for Earth.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), after evaluating late Thursday evening's (July 13, 10:09 p.m. EDT / July 14, 2:09 UTC) solar flare (M2-class) and CME, has issued a geomagnetic storm watch for July 16 and 17. Storms on both days are expected to be a moderately strong Category G2.

Aurora activity is also expected in the far northern and far southern latitudes, at around the same time. Aurora are natural light displays, visible at night mostly in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, caused when charged particles from the solar wind hit the Earth's magnetosphere.

Sunspots are large magnetic storms on the photosphere of the Sun. As the rotation of the Earth helps to mix the atmosphere causing normal weather storms on Earth, the rotation of the Sun (sidereal rotation rate of 24.47 days for one complete rotation) causes the complex magnetic fields to twist and form large storms we call sunspots.

Sunspots appear as dark spots on the Sun because these storms are cooler than the rest of the Sun's photosphere, but by no means are sunspots cold by our standards. The Sun's photosphere is a thin layer of the Sun's upper atmosphere where hot gases rise and give-off light and heat. The temperature of this photosphere is +10,000 degrees Fahrenheit / +5,700 degrees Celsius. The temperature of a sunspot is +6,400 degrees Fahrenheit / +3,500 degrees Celsius.

A geomagnetic storm is a disturbance in the portions of the Earth's upper atmosphere known as the magnetosphere and the ionosphere caused by a magnified solar wind of charged particles from the Sun. During a geomagnetic storm, energy from the Sun provides additional energy to Earth's magnetosphere, enlarging the magnetosphere. This often provides additional drag on satellites and space junk in low Earth orbit, limiting the amount of time the satellite and / or space junk stays in orbit.

A coronal mass ejection or CME is an unusually large ejection of plasma and magnetic field from the solar corona. The solar corona is an aura of plasma that surrounds the Sun and other stars, and extends millions of miles or kilometers into space from the Sun. During a Total Eclipse of the Sun, or Total Solar Eclipse, such as the Great American Solar Eclipse that will occur on August 21, the solar corona can be seen, safely, with the unaided eye—BUT ONLY in the narrow path of totality and during the very short period of the total phase of the eclipse, when the rest of the Sun is completely blocked by the Moon; at all other times it is extremely dangerous to a person's eye-sight to look at the Sun without proper equipment and proper training to do so safely.

This week's major solar activity is in sharp contrast to the waning days of this particular 11-year Sunspot Cycle, when visible sunspots have been few. Before Sunspot AR2665 rotated into view, the portion of the Sun facing the Earth went for two full days with no sunspots.

The period of relative calm on the Sun is known as the Sunspot Minimum or Solar Minimum portion of the 11-year Sunspot Cycle. NASA scientists now expect the Solar Minimum to occur in the time period around 2019-2020. The peak of the Sunspot Cycle seemed to occur in 2014, although recent Sunspot Cycles have not been as active as cycles in the past.

Although sunspots and other solar activity subside during the Solar Minimum, another solar phenomenon can be observed during this time period. Coronal holes often open-up at this time, allowing the Sun's magnetic field to emit streams of solar particles as a fast solar wind.

During Solar Minimum, Galactic cosmic rays, high energy particles from very distant supernova and other high-energy explosions, increasingly reach Earth's upper atmosphere. With a weakened solar magnetic field, there is less natural shielding from such cosmic rays for the Earth's upper atmosphere, which can adversely affect our astronauts in space.

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

Sunspots: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunspot

Solar Corona: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corona

Coronal Mass Ejection (CME): Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronal_mass_ejection

Geomagnetic Storm: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_storm

Aurora: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora

NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory Satellite:
Link 1 >>> https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sdo/main/index.html
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Dynamics_Observatory

Related Blog Posts ---

"'Blank Sun' June 3 & 4 as Sunspot Minimum Expected 2019-2020." 2016 June 14.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/06/blank-sun-june-3-4-as-sunspot-minimum.html

 

"Largest Sunspot in 24 Years Returns for 2nd Month." 2014 Nov. 23.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/11/largest-sunspot-in-24-years-returns-for.html

 

"Sunspot Count Max Finally Arrives, But 'Mini-Max'." 2014 June 10.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/06/sunspot-count-max-finally-arrives-but.html

 

"Huge Sunspot Group Faces Earth w/ X-Class Flares." 2013 Nov. 9.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.de/2013/11/huge-sunspot-group-faces-earth-w-x.html

 

"Solar Cycle Update: Twin Peaks?" 2013 March 2.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.sg/2013/03/solar-cycle-update-twin-peaks.html

 

"Colossal Sunspot Growing Fast, Solar Storms Possible." 2013 Feb. 21.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/02/colossal-sunspot-growing-fast-solar.html

 

"Sunspot AR1654 Getting Bigger w/ Solar Flare." 2013 Jan. 12.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/01/sunspot-ar1654-getting-bigger-w-solar.html

 

"Enormous Sunspot Could Lead to Solar Flares." 2012 May 9.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.mx/2012/05/enormous-sunspot-could-lead-to-solar.html


     Safe Public Viewing of the Great American Solar Eclipse
                         Monday, August 21, 2017
     Mt. Lebanon Public Library, South Suburban Pittsburgh
More Info: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2017 July 15.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
TransportWatchtower Blog: < http://transportwatchtower.blogspot.com  >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Astronomical Calendar: 2017 July

Astronomers have slammed the Mayak satellite (pictured), which is no larger than a rugby ball, calling it a 'nonsense' project that could 'ruin' dark skies for everyone170630-mayak-satellite-feature-image
The launch of a Russian crowd-funded satellite, called Mayak, is expected on July 14. The purpose of the small, but very bright, satellite is to test how to brake satellites and de-orbit such satellites. However, astronomers are complaining that this satellite will contribute to light pollution in the night sky, as it is expected to be as bright as the third or fourth brightest object in the sky.
More info: Link >>> http://nypost.com/2017/06/30/russian-satellite-to-be-one-of-the-brightest-objects-in-the-night-sky/ (Image Source: Mayak Project)

Astronomical Calendar for 2017 July: 
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2017.html#jul

 Related Blog Post ---


"Astronomical Calendar: 2017 June." 2017 June 1.

Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2017.html#jun


     Safe Public Viewing of the Great American Solar Eclipse
                         Monday, August 21, 2017
     Mt. Lebanon Public Library, South Suburban Pittsburgh
More Info: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm

Source: Friends of the Zeiss.
              2017 July 1.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
TransportWatchtower Blog: < http://transportwatchtower.blogspot.com  >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >