Experts available to explain solar eclipse

Scientists to study 2024 total eclipse and participate in community outreach

Feb 14, 2024 - by Audrey Merket

As the April 8, 2024 total eclipse that will cross North America draws near, scientists at the U.S. National Science Foundation National Center for Atmospheric Research (NSF NCAR), are preparing various research field campaigns and community outreach projects related to the eclipse. Eclipse experts are available to explain topics to journalists such as: 

  • Why eclipses are important for studying the Sun 
  • Explanations about solar phenomena like coronal mass ejections, solar flares, or sunspots 
  • The impact of space weather on Earth 
  • Research projects and community events NSF NCAR is involved in during the 2024 eclipse 

Paul Bryans, NSF NCAR Scientist,

Bryans researches dynamic events in the solar atmosphere, in particular how mass and energy is transported from the lower atmosphere to the solar corona. He has been involved with field expeditions to observe solar eclipses since 2017, including leading a team to a mountaintop in Chile during the 2020 total eclipse. For the 2024 eclipse, Bryans is a co-investigator for the Citizen Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse (CATE) project that will help citizen scientists observe and capture images of the eclipse from Texas to Maine. 

Samaiyah Farid, NSF NCAR Scientist, 

Farid studies the Sun’s outer atmosphere or corona. She specializes in understanding the thermal and magnetic evolution of coronal jets using observations and 3D models. During the 2024 eclipse, Farid is leading outreach efforts to diverse communities along the path of totality. 

Holly Gilbert, Director, High Altitude Observatory, 

Holly has over 25 years of experience in the field of heliophysics conducting solar research, leading large groups of scientists, and participating in outreach and education activities. She is the principal investigator for CMEx, a proposal for a NASA mission that, if selected, will enable a never-before-seen view of our star’s magnetic field. She also is overseeing efforts to develop the Coronal Solar Magnetism Observatory (COSMO), a unique ground-based facility designed to address current shortfalls in our capability to measure magnetic fields in the solar corona. 

Daniela Lacatus, NSF NCAR Scientist, 

Lacatus is a solar physicist studying solar chromospheric emissions in both dormant and dynamic events. She is involved in a number of projects exploring different aspects of the Sun's activity, from Sun-as-a-Star emission to detailed measurements of magnetic fields. The solar eclipse will give her the opportunity to get unique observations to study the Sun's magnetism, as well as engage with the wider community and share scientific knowledge. 

Momchil Molnar, NSF NCAR Postdoctoral Fellow, 

Molnar studies what light coming from the outer layers of the Sun can tell us about its composition and structure. In particular, he is interested in using the polarization of light to learn more about the magnetic field of the Sun’s corona. Learning to estimate the coronal magnetic field on a regular basis is an important step toward improving space weather forecasting, and Molnar is preparing an experiment for the eclipse to help this effort. 

Michael Wiltberger, Deputy Director, High Altitude Observatory, 

Wiltberger is an expert on the impacts of coronal mass ejections (CMEs). He works to develop new models for space weather. His main area of research is modeling the magnetosphere and its interaction with the solar wind and coupled thermosphere-ionosphere system. Wiltberger will be in Dallas, Texas, for the 2024 eclipse where he will participate in the Triennial Earth-Sun Summit (TESS) meeting.

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