By WILLIE MALVEAUX
A solar eclipse is the obscuring of sunlight by the passing of the Moon, thus lessening the light reaching earth. For those experiencing the complete solar eclipse, this turns day into night. In order for an eclipse to happen, the moon phase must both align perfectly with Earth’s orbit around the sun and be a new moon–something that occurs only once every 18 months. On Aug. 21, the United States experienced a trans-continental solar eclipse, the first of which since June 1918. However, most Americans, including those in California, were only able to view a partial eclipse. As a result, many have flocked to the path of totality: the narrow corridor in which the complete solar eclipse may be seen from the ground.
Oddly enough, when the sky darkens during the complete solar eclipse, many animals act as if night has fallen and commence their nightly routine in the middle of the day. This gives biologists a chance to study this as well as the reactions of other animals. Aside from biology, scientists also study the atmospheric effects of the eclipse. The Moon blocks the Sun just enough to view its corona, something incredibly expensive and complicated to view otherwise. This event creates many unique opportunities to research.
According to NASA, the next solar eclipse in North America is predicted to be in May, 2024. It will pass through Mexico and fly northeast through much of the United States. Sadly, California will not experience this celestial event, though it passes through 17 states from Texas to Pennsylvania to Maine. Though far away, an eclipse in the near future gives researchers a second crack at researching during this event.