5 questions answered by U of L planetarium director on what you'll see on solar eclipse day
As the sun shines down on this last day of Louisville's summer break, science is the subject on many young minds heading back to class.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A once-in-a-lifetime space experience is on the horizon.
As the sun shines down on this last day of Louisville's summer break, science is the subject on many young minds heading back to class. Students are asking all kinds of questions about the eclipse.
"Does it always happen every 100 years?" asked Hank Cerrone, a student.
Tom Tretter, Director of the Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium, had answers for many of those questions.
"It turns out the solar eclipse is not on a regular schedule," Tretter said. "So it's not every 100 years, but that's a rough average.
"Now in the U.S., we actually have a next opportunity in 2024 in seven years. We'll have a total eclipse passing from Texas through Maine."
Tretter runs the planetarium at the University of Louisville. He describes the eclipse as a breathtaking experience.
"It really happens quickly when you get that total solar blockage, and so the temperature will drop 10 to 15 degrees," Tretter said. "The animals will go into nighttime behavior. You might hear crickets, chickens going into roost, and you will see that in a matter of seconds, like a light switch going off."
While most people look on out of sheer amazement. scientist will be looking for answers to long wondered questions about the sun.
"Scientists are studying the corona, that's the hot area on the outside of the sun," Tretter said. "It extends millions of miles above the sun's surface ... The total solar eclipse gives us a chance to see the corona. this is important for us to figure out how it works.
"When the sun's corona throws off, it can damage electronics. So scientist are trying to figure out how that works."
The lights are set to go off Monday at 2:27 p.m. EDT for about two minutes. The best place to watch is Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
"What's in the sky?" Marie George asked. "What can we look out for?"
"Well, when the sun gets blocked," Tretter said. "We'll actually be able to see Venus in the sky during the middle of the day, which is unusual."
"How does the moon get in front of the sun?" student Hayden Byrne said.
"We have our moon going around the earth in an orbit that's tilted," Tretter said. "And once in a great while, that orbit happens to bring the Moon right between the earth and the sun. It has to line up just perfect."
"Should we not be looking up at that part of the sky all day, or just that shorter window?" Audrey Felix asked.
"In Louisville, since there is never that total eclipse area, you should never look straight at the sun at any time," Tretter said.
"Explain to me the difference in what we'll see in Louisville versus Hopkinsville?" asked WDRB's Gilbert Corsey.
"What we'll see in Hopkinsville and other parts of the totality ... You'll see the sun completely covered by the moon and that thin faint corona is visible in that dark night sky," Tretter said. "In Louisville? In Louisville, if we flip to the next scene, you will see a tiny fingernail of light."
When the lights go out on city, it seems all eyes will look to the sky.
You can get WDRB Eclipse Glasses for free at the Kentucky State Fair starting Thursday. Just stop by our booth in the north wing lobby.
And on Monday, you can experience the total solar eclipse with WDRB and the University of Louisville Planetarium. Our meteorologists, anchors and scientists will be at the State Fair at 1:30 p.m. Monday to walk you through exactly what's happening and to answer your questions.
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