The moon’s shadow will spread across the United States on April 8, 2024, in a phenomenon reminiscent of the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. However, there are also differences. The moon will be closer to Earth than it was in 2017, so the shadow on the Earth’s surface will be wider, allowing more people to enjoy the spectacular sight of the moon blocking the sun’s face during the day. . In 2017, the total path was 115 kilometers wide, but by 2024 it will be nearly 200 kilometers wide. The 2024 eclipse will also occur in more densely populated urban areas.
NASA used this opportunity to provide support for five scientific experiments that will take place during the 2024 solar eclipse. One project will use the WB-57 high-altitude survey aircraft to photograph solar eclipses from altitudes of more than 55,000 feet (16,764 meters). Researchers hope to probe the sun’s outer atmosphere at visible and infrared frequencies to pinpoint features within the solar corona. The aircraft will also use this opportunity to study the dust ring around the sun and spot asteroids orbiting close to the sun.
In the ionosphere, radio operators can communicate around the world regardless of the Earth’s curvature by reflecting signals. However, the behavior of the ionosphere can be unstable during a solar eclipse. HAM radio operators track changes in the ionosphere during the eclipse by pinging as many other operators as possible and recording signal strength. The Super Dual Aurora Radar Network (SuperDARN) network of ground-based sensors investigates the effects of solar radiation on the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere during the course of a solar eclipse. Another team of scientists will look at active regions of the sun associated with sunspots, solar flares, filament eruptions and CMEs.