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Scientists excited about total solar eclipse to impact Mid-Missouri

A total solar eclipse is a rare occurrence. It’s been decades since one was seen in Mid-Missouri, but that’s about to change.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon is in direct alignment with the sun, and blocks the sun, allowing only the corona layer to be seen.

The significant event will occur on August 21, 2017.

A two-day conference of scientists wrapped up on the University of Missouri campus Friday.

The group talked about an upcoming eclipse that is still three years away.

Part of their plan is to spread the word, as the eclipse will coincide with the first day of school at Mizzou in 2017.

Angela Speck, an MU physics professor said, “Columbia is actually right in the middle of the path, so we are going to have a really great show. This is a big deal for the whole country, and we want to make the most of it. We want to have people involved, we want the whole country looking at the sun, when it gets hidden by the moon. We are here to try to figure out how we’re going to do that, and how we’re going to do it safely, and how we can take advantage of it as an educational opportunity, as well as do research on things we can’t do, unless there’s an eclipse.”

Viewing will happen at noon for a total of two and a half minutes. What excites scientists are the research opportunities that come that come with the eclipse.

Some studies can only be done with the totality.

Matt Penn, a scientist with the National Solar Observatory in Tucson said, “The eclipse goes through a partial phase, where you have to use special filters to look at the eclipse, and that will last for about one hour. During the totality, you won’t need any special protection, you can look at the corona on your own. During the eclipse we are hoping to learn the dynamics about how the solar atmosphere works, and how these coronal mass ejections can impact the earth and what we can do to predict them better.”

In July 2012, a massive storm on the sun did impact the satellite data here, and even impacted satellite and radar data used by meteorologists.

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