Along the 2017 total solar eclipse's path, scientists observe Earth and Sun.
On Aug. 21, the Moon’s shadow will take 90 minutes to cross the continental United States during the total solar eclipse. Eleven NASA-funded teams of scientists are making the most of the two and a half minutes of darkness they’ll experience at locations along the path of totality. The eclipse offers a rare chance to study the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, from the ground — a challenge for space-based telescopes due to the Sun’s brightness. The corona is where burps of charged solar particles, called coronal mass ejections, originate. When released in our direction, these solar storms can collide with Earth and rattle our magnetic field. Intense coronal mass ejections can even affect satellites and power grids. Scientists believe the key to predicting these events lies in understanding the magnetic energy stored in the corona. Another mystery they hope to clear up: why is the corona so much hotter than the Sun’s surface? Teams located 600 miles apart along the eclipse’s path will take images that will allow scientists to study the corona's composition and temperature. Explore the videos and images below for more ways scientists are studying the Sun and Earth during the solar eclipse.