Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 20, 2017

Solar Eclipses Offer Great Opportunity For Scientific Discovery

The Guardian reports on the opportunities a solar eclipse offers for scientific discovery for scientists and citizen scientists

it is a phenomenon that scientists have learned to exploit over the centuries, having made numerous major breakthroughs – from the discovery of helium to confirmation of Einstein’s general theory of relativity – during eclipses. Crucially, astronomers are hoping to maintain this success rate on Monday.

scientists believe the eclipse will give them a chance to make major improvements in understanding the solar wind and how it affects Earth. However, there are other effects closer to home that will also be studied – and not just those that concern humans. Over the centuries volumes of evidence have been amassed about animal reactions to the sudden darkening of the daytime sky as an eclipse takes place: birds being silenced, squirrels freezing in mid-stride and bats and other nocturnal creatures making appearances as the darkness increases.

“A total eclipse is purely a celestial event but it can have profound impacts on wildlife on Earth,” said Elise Ricard, of the California Academy of Sciences, in San Francisco. “We want to record those events.”

Ricard and her colleagues have developed an app called iNaturalist which allows users to join the Life Responds project. Volunteers are being asked to record animal activity before and during the eclipse. Other apps will allow them to video those activities.

Read full article at Why this eclipse is our best chance to discover the mysteries of the sun


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