USC physicist and astronomer Go images Total Solar Eclipse

Department of Physics adjunct professor Christopher Y. Go imaged the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024. A self-confessed umbraphile, Go was in Dallas, TX, U.S.A. to image the much-hyped eclipse.

The Diamond Ring Effect, the last light of the Sun before totality (photo courtesy: Christopher Y. Go).
Red-colored eruptive prominences observed during totality (photo courtesy: Christopher Y. Go).

Approximately 32 million people in the United States were in the path of totality where the Moon completely blocked the Sun for over four minutes. With considerably less hype, the last total solar (hybrid) eclipse happened in 2023 and was visible in East Timor and lasted just over one minute.

Since astronomy is a science, eclipses can be easily predicted, opines Go. He said the next total solar eclipse that will be visible in the Philippines is on April 20, 2042. 

This event has attracted a lot of attention from scientists and astronomers because the Sun is nearing its solar maximum, which is part of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle when the Sun’s magnetic field flips. The most number of sunspots, reflecting the Sun’s activity, is observed during the solar maximum. While sunspots and solar flares are regularly seen by scientists, the Sun’s corona (or outer atmosphere) is best observed during a total solar eclipse.

The Sun’s corona during the total solar eclipse (photo courtesy: Christopher Y. Go).

Solar activity can affect radio and satellite communications, and particles from the Sun may also interact with the Earth’s ionosphere and result in auroras. The Sun’s increased activity, however, is not related to the heating of the Earth. According to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the amount of solar energy received by the Earth has been fairly constant since the 1950s. Global temperature, however, has been steadily rising throughout the same period; this global warming is likely caused by increased greenhouse gases emission.

The USC Department of Physics is hosting a magnetic data acquisition system (MAGDAS) in collaboration with the International Center for Space Weather Studies and Education in Kyushu University. The department also has an ionosonde, which is installed in collaboration with the Japan National Institute of Information and Communications Technology as part of the Southeast Asia Low Latitude Ionospheric Network (SEALION).

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