NASA to study Earth's ionosphere during total solar eclipse

A view of the eclipsed sun through eclipse glasses

Those watching with, for example, eclipse glasses, will see an increasing chunk taken out of the solar disk as the moon starts passing in front of it.

Glasses for the viewing the August 21 solar eclipse sit on a table Thursday at Central Texas College's Mayborn Science Theater in Killeen. The Citizen CATE (Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse) experiment aims to capture images of the inner solar corona using a network of more than 60 telescopes operated by citizen scientists, high school groups and universities.

Even though the glasses might look a little amusing, there's nothing amusing about eye damage.

Astronauts on the International Space Station will also be able to see the eclipse.

. What exactly is a solar eclipse, though, and how does it differ from the lunar eclipses we talk about every now and then?

Not wearing them could result in lasting damage called solar maculopathy, or a sunburn to the retina. "Can you imagine how it would be to see that?" The longest period of total darkening will be about two minutes and 40 seconds, according to NASA. And though animals don't necessarily know as humans do that a solar eclipse is coming, they "have enough common sense not to look at the sun during the solar eclipse". Reference to the solar eclipse has been discovered in ancient texts all over the world from Chinese academic documentaries to Homer's Odyssey.

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Towns along the "line of totality"-including Idaho Falls and Casper, Wyoming-are expecting close to half a million visitors".

It is risky to look directly at the sun, especially because it won't be a total eclipse for us this far south, as it can cause permanent eye damage.

Because of the sudden darkness and drop in temperature, it's very possible to witness sudden changes in animals' behavior. Most parts of the USA will witness a partial solar eclipse.

Earlier this week, AAS updated its safety advice on purchasing glasses and released a list of approved vendors in response to alarming reports of unsafe "eclipse viewers" popping up online, the company said. The next total lunar eclipse is January 31, 2019. However, as totality is ending, there's a flash of sunlight when the moon moves off the sun. The full moon blocks the sun creating the shadow on the Earth. This is why, despite the size difference, the moon appears to completely cover the sun during a total solar eclipse.

The Moon's formation 4.5 billion years ago, it would've been 23,000 km from earth, so eclipses would have been a more regular occurrence.

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