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"The Eclipse Science Festival"

Written by Paul Sutter on Monday, 21 August 2017. Posted in From The Desk of...The Chief Scientist

Well after all the hype, anticipation, and preparation, the eclipse has come and gone. As usual for a massive event like this, there were plenty of excited people, frightened people, cautious people, reckless people, and so on. The usual mix. But the eclipse itself was a spectacular show, delighting and captivating millions. Hundreds of millions!

To me, one of the most overlooked aspects of the eclipse is how accurately and precisely we can predict it. Think about it: we could know the precise second when it was safe to remove our glasses to see totality.

That kind of precision doesn't come easily, and it's only after centuries of theoretical development (e.g., having a better understanding of complicated gravitational interactions) and experimental development (e.g., extremely accurate measurements of the gradual recession of the moon) that we were able to make such predictions.

Combined with satellite-based topographical maps and forecasts of local weather conditions, we could predict the best viewing spots well in advance.

So nature is doing all the work in putting on a show, but I think the eclipse rightly qualified as a nationwide science festival.

About the Author

Paul Sutter

Paul Sutter

Paul Sutter is COSI's Chief Scientist. He is an astrophysicist and offers a wealth of knowledge about our universe. In addition to his COSI position, Paul Sutter is a Cosmological Researcher and Community Outreach Coordinator at The Ohio State University's Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP).