The total eclipse of the sun that will pass over the United States on Aug. 21 is predicted to be one of the most-watched events of its kind in history, with some 200 million people living within a day's drive of its path. But a group of Bucknell University student and faculty researchers is planning to do more during the eclipse than look on in awe and wonder — they'll use it to probe unanswered questions about the nature of the sun.
Led by Professor Ned Ladd, physics & astronomy, the group will travel south on a multiday research excursion into the path of the eclipse. To give themselves the best chance of getting a clear view of the moon passing in front of the sun, they've scouted two campsites in Tennessee and South Carolina. They'll use the most current weather reports and radar readings on the day of their departure to choose their destination. Using portable telescopes and field equipment from Bucknell's astronomy department, they hope to gather data about the sun's corona, a region of superhot plasma surrounding the sun that is most easily observed during a total solar eclipse.