SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - It's one of the most anticipated solar eclipses in history.
August 21, 2017, will provide a unique opportunity to study what happens when the Earth goes dark during a total Solar Eclipse. It's also an opportunity for a large-scale citizen science project, as NASA will look to the public to gather data at different points during the day.
"Everyone in North America, Central and part of South America is going to get to experience at least a partial eclipse and folks in that narrow band that we call the Path of Totality," said NASA Scientist, Dr. Alex Young.
Portions of 14 states will go dark for approximately two minutes during the eclipse that will span about 70 miles, according to Dr. Young. Those in that path will then have an opportunity to see the Sun's Corona, with their own eyes, using the proper eye protection.
"We know where that shadow is going to be, and as it moves across the country, it decreases the amount of light, and that changes the atmosphere," said Dr. Young. "We can see the changes in clouds and changes in temperature, so this is an opportunity to measure the effects of the Sun on our atmosphere."
Advancements in modern technology and alternative energy sources will likely see impacts based on the blockage of the Sun's rays. Dr. Young said, most notably, solar power grids that utilize the Sun as an alternative energy source may have to go back, "to the grid," for a brief time.
This is going to be a noticeable impact everywhere in North America, remarked Dr. Young. "This is just one more way, in which we're studying the impact of the Sun of the Earth and our Environment."
The concept of a total eclipse is a unique feature of our planet. Dr. Young says Earth is the only planet that experiences these total eclipses, especially to this degree.
"We happen to be at the right location, and the Moon happens to be the right size that it completely blocks out the Sun during these total eclipses, so we're in a special place to get to enjoy this," Dr. Young added.