June 19, 2017
Summer nights are made for stargazing. But this summer’s solar eclipse is generating a lot of extra excitement about the heavens.
“On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe inspiring sights – a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona, will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk,” reports NASA, who even has a count-down clock on its website.
Remember, Safety First!
Anyone who wants to see at least a partial solar eclipse should use caution. Without proper equipment, you will seriously injure your eyes.
“The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as ‘eclipse glasses’ or hand-held solar viewers,” warns NASA who offers detailed safety advice.
A Boost for Science?
Could this eclipse help support science in the United States? It did during the 1878 total eclipse of the sun, which was visible over the American Wild West.
As science journalist David Baron explains, this often-forgotten celestial event dominated the news media and helped Americans see science differently. He authored a book about the event called “American Eclipse,” and was featured recently on PRI’s The World.
“The path of the eclipse crossed the American Wild West at a time when our country was really not respected in science,” he told PRI. “American scientists wanted to show what we could do. So, here was a total eclipse in our backyard. We were gonna show Europe that we could do astronomy as well as they could.”
About 139 years later, a total solar eclipse is coming again. Meanwhile, our nation’s astronomers have become respected around the world. Let’s hope this rare event helps even more Americans appreciate the wonders of nature and science.
Science and Farming
Since this is a food and agricultural blog, it seems appropriate to mention that space continues to play a key role in helping farmers grow food.
From the International Space Center, an agricultural camera is relaying valuable data to farmers about crop growth and crop yield potentials.
Space technology is fostering precision agricultural technology to help farmers use fewer chemicals while increasing their yields and profits.
There’s even space research being done about growing vegetables in soil from the planet Mars. Fortunately, the popular tomato grew quite well.