WATCH: Solar Eclipse Visible In Europe Friday Morning

By  //  March 20, 2015

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94 percent of sun to be blocked

ABOVE VIDEO: BBC News explains what is the importance of the upcoming Solar Eclipse and how it can be observed safely.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE LIVE STREAM

ECLIPSE-370-1EDITOR’S NOTE: Slooh makes astronomy incredibly easy, engaging and affordable for anyone with a desire to see outer space for themselves.

Since 2003 Slooh has connected telescopes to the Internet for access by the broader public.

Slooh’s automated observatories develop celestial images in real-time for broadcast to the Internet.

NASA.gov – During the morning of March 20, at approximately 4:30 a.m., a total solar eclipse will be visible from the Faroe Islands, located northwest of Scotland, and the Svalbard Islands, located east of Greenland.

nasa-180At the same time, surrounding regions of Europe, northern Africa and northern Asia will be treated to a partial solar eclipse.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between Earth and the sun, casting a shadow over Earth.

The moon’s shadow masks the solar surface and blocks sunlight from reaching Earth directly – but the amount of sunlight blocked depends on location.

For example, on March 20, those in Glasgow, Scotland, will see about 94-percent of the sun blocked by the moon.

The animated image shows the path of the March 20, 2015 solar eclipse. The blue, half-oval, shadow shows the regions where a partial eclipse will be visible. The thin black line shows the area of total eclipse. (NASA.gov image)

The animated image shows the path of the March 20, 2015 solar eclipse. The blue, half-oval, shadow shows the regions where a partial eclipse will be visible. The thin black line shows the area of total eclipse. (NASA.gov image)

The unblocked sunlight will appear as a thumbnail sliver. In Paris, the moon will block about three-quarters of the sun at the time of maximum eclipse.

Not only are eclipses an engaging sight, but they also have provided a slew of important science results through the ages.

Total solar eclipses block the entire disk of the sun so the faint solar corona, the sun’s atmosphere, can be seen.

In fact, before the 20th century, eclipses were the only way humans could see the corona.

Records of ancient solar eclipse observations date back to around 2,000 B.C. Before astronomical photography, astronomers and talented recorders drew solar details of eclipses.

This gave observers only a few minutes to sketch the sun’s corona, before the total eclipse was over – but the results led to tantalizing glimpses of how variable and dynamic that atmosphere was exciting the curiosity of early scientists.

This sketch by Spanish astronomer José Joaquin de Ferrer, depicts the solar atmosphere, or corona, during a June 16, 1806, total solar eclipse. Before astronomical photography, observers depended on sketches of eclipses to study the sun's corona. (NASA.gov image)

This sketch by Spanish astronomer José Joaquin de Ferrer, depicts the solar atmosphere, or corona, during a June 16, 1806, total solar eclipse. Before astronomical photography, observers depended on sketches of eclipses to study the sun’s corona. (NASA.gov image)

Given the advantages of using solar eclipses to study the solar atmosphere, scientists and engineers in the 20th century built telescopes and spacecraft to mimic their effects.

Known as coronagraphs, these kinds of observatories artificially block out the bright light of the sun to reveal the surrounding corona.

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Scientists gather observations from such coronagraphs as the joint European Space Agency and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, as well as NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO.

For example, these artificial eclipse-makers help us spot and measure giant eruptions on the sun called coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, that hurl solar material out into space.

Solar eclipses have also helped with physics and chemistry research.

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A total solar eclipse proved Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

According to the theory, light from a star should appear to bend as it passes by the edge of the sun.

Observations during a total solar eclipse in 1919 – which blocked enough of the sun’s light that stars near the sun were visible in the daytime – showed a star’s apparent position in the sky shift due to the sun’s gravitational influence, thus confirming Einstein’s theory.

Additionally, solar eclipse observations led to the discoveries of new and unexpected elements. Spectroscopy measures light emitted, absorbed or scattered by materials.

ECLIPSE-580

During the morning of March 20, 2015, a total solar eclipse will be visible from the Faroe Islands, located northwest of Scotland, and the Svalbard Islands, located east of Greenland. (NASA.gov image)

Therefore, examining spectroscopic data can show what materials gave off or blocked incoming light, making it a great tool for exploring materials in distant stars or other planets.

Eclipse spectroscopy detected helium in 1868, 25 years before discovery of the element on Earth.

During a solar eclipse in 1879, two scientists independently discovered another new line in the spectrum of the sun’s corona. The data led the scientists to believe they’d discovered a new element.

They named the element coronium. Six decades later an astronomer realized coronium lines weren’t unique, but rather they depicted iron at very high temperatures.

Ryan Milligan-180

Ryan Milligan

“That incredibly hot iron led to an important area of solar science, called the coronal heating problem,” said Ryan Milligan a solar scientist at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland.

“The sun’s atmosphere is much, much hotter than its surface and scientists are still trying to establish exactly why.”

Despite modern technology, eclipses are still vital to observing and understanding the sun. Coronagraphs in space cannot show the inner corona of the sun, locations where scientists believe CME’s are accelerated.

These regions are better viewed during a total solar eclipse.

In addition to research, present day eclipses are watched for their interest value.

If you’re able to see the March 20, 2015, eclipse, remember to never look at the sun with the naked eye, even during an eclipse.

• How to safely watch an eclipse
• Find out when and where the upcoming solar eclipse will be visible
• Past and upcoming solar eclipses


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