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Public Presentation on Recent Eclipse Today at UW

February 2, 2018
complete eclipse of the sun
This photo of the Aug. 21 eclipse shows the moon as it passes in front of the sun. A public presentation about preliminary results on the eclipse is today (Friday, Feb. 2), at 4 p.m. in Room 214 of the UW Classroom Building. (Citizen CATE Photo provided by Michael Pierce)

Preliminary results from the Citizen CATE (Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse) Experiment project will be shared during a public presentation, titled “Scientific Results from the Great American Eclipse,” today (Friday, Feb. 2), at 4 p.m. in Room 214 of the University of Wyoming’s Classroom Building.

Michael Pierce, an associate professor in the UW Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Logan Jensen, a UW undergraduate astronomy major from Greybull, will make the presentation, which will highlight the involvement of UW and volunteers across the state during the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse.

The presentation also will include findings of the study of the corona, the sun’s outer atmosphere, during the eclipse. A 3-minute, time-lapsed video of the eclipse and corona -- condensed from a 90-minute video captured as the eclipse crossed America -- will be shown at the presentation.

“We are planning to present some of the exciting science that is coming out of the Citizen CATE eclipse project. We will describe the project, the training of the volunteer observational teams and show some nice pictures and a video showing our results,” says Pierce, who served as Wyoming state coordinator for Citizen CATE. “The main result will be our detection and characterization of material moving away from the sun along coronal filaments. This phenomena is thought to be the origin of the corona's 1-million-degree temperature.”

To take full advantage of this historic cosmic event, the Citizen CATE project was conceived by NASA to deploy 68 identical telescopes -- including nine in Wyoming -- across the United States. Operated by more than 250 citizen scientists and volunteers, CATE telescopes collected the longest time-lapse video ever of the elusive inner corona. The CATE video has revealed several previously unknown coronal phenomena and has become a source of excitement for solar astronomers and physicists around the world. Being the largest state on the eclipse path, Wyoming's citizens and UW personnel were extensively involved with the CATE project.

Pavillion, Shoshoni, Riverton, Casper, Douglas, Glendo, Thermopolis, Lusk and Torrington were Wyoming communities that experienced a total eclipse, along with Grand Teton National Park.

A total solar eclipse is when the moon’s shadow touches the Earth and blankets portions of it in total darkness for a few moments. In essence, the sun, moon and Earth align. A person in the dark part of that shadow, known as the umbra, saw a total eclipse. A person in the light part, called the penumbra, saw a partial eclipse.

According to a December report released by the Wyoming Office of Tourism, about 99,000 out-of-state visitors came to the state to view the eclipse. Before last summer’s eclipse, the last total solar eclipse to cross America occurred Feb. 26, 1979.

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