Online Coursera class on solar eclipse and other eclipse info

A total eclipse is one of the most spectacular sights you can ever see! It looks like the end of the world may be at hand. There is a black hole in the sky where the sun should be. Pink flames of solar prominences and long silver streamers of the sun’s corona stretch across the sky. It gets cold, and animals do strange things. People scream and shout and cheer, and remember the experience their whole life. But total eclipses are important scientifically as well. They let us see parts of the sun’s atmosphere that are otherwise invisible. A total eclipse presented the first chance to test Einstein’s prediction that matter can bend space – like near a black hole. The best total eclipse in the United States in 40 years happens August 21st, 2017.

The Coursera class is a real college course at University of Colorado, Boulder taught by Prof. Douglas Duncan, a professional astronomer and director of the Fiske Planetarium.

The class is available for free any time via Coursera. Here’s what’s covered:

How to safely view the total or partial solar eclipse
How to help others watch safely — even make $$$ by leading a “neighborhood watch” of the eclipse!

An intro to light science:
how astronomers study the sun,
how it formed,
how we know what’s inside it,
and where the the earth’s life-energy is generated

This course has two primary goals:

1) to get you excited for the total solar eclipse coming in August 2017 and prepare you and your community to safely view it
2) to provide an inviting overview of the science of the sun and the physics of light

If you are most interested in preparing for the eclipse, you can hop right into Week 5! If you want the full course experience, and to get some fun scientific context for what you’ll be seeing on August 21st, start with Week 1 and move through the course week by week.

* have eclipse glasses for the partial phases of the eclipse.

Sky and Telescope has a free eclipse guide which you can get by providing an email.

Those living in the continental U.S. haven’t seen the Sun’s corona since 1979, but there will be another on April 8, 2024.

There is a list of total, annular and partial solar eclipses in wikipedia. Somewhere in the world there will be a partial eclipse about 2 to 4 times in a year. Here is a list of total eclipses from now to 2030. During the 21st century, there will be 224 solar eclipses of which 77 will be partial, 72 will be annular, 68 will be total and 7 will be hybrids between total and annular eclipses.

I personally was living in Canada on Feb 26, 1979 when there was a total eclipse. The central shadow of the moon passed through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana (where totality covered almost the entire state), and North Dakota, the Canadian provinces Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, the Northwest Territories of Canada (the portion that is now Nunavut), and Greenland.

July 2, 2019 Total: central Argentina and Chile, Tuamotu Archipelago
Partial: South America, Easter Island, Galapagos Islands, Southern Central America, Polynesia

December 14, 2020: Total: Southern Chile and Argentina, Kiribati, Polynesia
Partial: Central and Southern South America, Southwest Africa, Antarctic Peninsula, Ellsworth Land, Western Queen Maud Land

April 8, 2024 Total: Mexico, central and northeastern United States, East Canada
Partial: North America, Central America

August 12, 2026 Total: Arctic, Greenland, Iceland, Spain, Northeastern Portugal
Partial: Northern North America, Western Africa, Europe

August 2, 2027 Total: Morocco, Spain, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia
Partial: Africa, Europe, Mid East, West and South Asia

July 22, 2028 Total: Australia, New Zealand
Partial: Southeast Asia, East Indies

July 25, 2030 Total: Botswana, South Africa, Australia
Partial: South Africa, Southern Indian Ocean, East Indies, Australia, Antarctica

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