Don’t Make Me Wait for April 8!

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Eclipses help scientists see faint objects next to bright objects. Just like you might raise your hand to block light from your car’s headlight while you search the ground for your keys, eclipses block the overpowering light from a star so objects around it can be viewed more easily. This is what the Eclipse Megamovie project, the Dynamic Eclipse Broadcast Initiative, and Citizen CATE 2024 are doing: taking advantage of the Moon blocking the fierce sunlight so they can see what’s happening right around the Sun. These projects invite you to help them use this method to study the Sun’s faint corona. Eclipses and occultations can also tell us about the relative sizes and shapes of objects. This is how Sunsketcher will harness the April 8 eclipse. With your help, they will use our precise knowledge of the size and topography of the Moon to vastly improve estimates of the shape of the Sun. At the very beginning and end of totality, viewers will see Baily’s Beads – bright spots of light around the Moon’s edge where rays of sunlight slip through the valleys between the mountains on the Moon’s surface just before and after totality. The SunSketcher app will capture images of these beads along with precise time and location data of each observation. Following the eclipse, the SunSketcher team will use the collected observations to calculate the shape of the Sun.

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