Scientists gather in Hopkinsville for complete darkness

Published: Aug. 21, 2017 at 5:35 PM EDT
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Weather balloons, specially outfitted telescopes and an array of other instruments were on display just outside Hopkinsville for the solar eclipse.

Barrett Goudeau, a graduate research assistant at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, said the eclipse gives them a once in a lifetime opportunity to measure how solar radiation affects temperatures during different times of the day.

“So this data, once we get it, is actually going to be used to compare to other datasets that we already have during similar events, like sunset. Once we stop getting that solar radiation so we can determine how quickly the atmosphere will respond to first off, that decrease in solar radiation and then a rapid increase in solar radiation, which we never get to see,” said Goudeau

Goudeau said his university is one of the best of the country in studying rapidly changing conditions because of their resources they have.

“What makes us unique is that we can come out here and do these experiments very quickly. We have a huge array of vehicles that have specialized instrumentation on them. That’s things that other schools don’t have or don’t have the resources to locate as quickly as we can,” said Goudeau

Scientists from NASA’s Marshall Space Center, also in Alabama, went to Hopkinsville to study the sun’s corona. They said they do not often get the chance to see it up close and personal.

“There is a lot of solar scientists who are very interested in the corona because there is still a lot we don’t know about it. It’s super hot, hotter than it should be, it’s like a million degrees kelvin, and we don’t know why. Scientists are still trying to understand that,” said NASA Planetary Scientist, Jesse Dimech.

He said no matter what field you are in, you still have to stop during the eclipse to take in the sheer wonder of the event.

“This is a very rare opportunity, once every 300 years, do we get total eclipse in the same spot. Even though they happen every 18 months, they are still quite rare, one of the rarest, most beautiful natural phenomenon we can see,” said Dimech.

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