Human Perception (03:36)
A subculture of eclipse chasers celebrate the phenomenon; solar events are mysterious and aid discoveries. Ancients regarded the events with wonder and fear, referring to the moon as a dragon eating the sun.
Ancient Astronomers (02:28)
More than 22 centuries ago, Babylonians discover a prediction system, the Saros cycle of eclipses. The Greeks create the Antikythera mechanism. In 2008, experts discover the Saros cycle is programmed into the mechanism.
Current Events (02:37)
Total eclipses occur an average of once every 16 months. In August 2017, experts map the eclipse to the second to find the Path of Totality. Temperatures can drop 35 degrees during an eclipse; the universe has been expanding and cooling for 14 billion years.
Solar eclipses are uncommon and depend on the alignment of planet, moon and sun; they are not exclusive to Earth. The penumbra is the fuzzy area of the moon's shadow; the Path of Totality follows the Umbra.
Events Across the Universe (03:08)
Eclipses occur where planets have moons; see footage of Mars phenomenon created by Phobos. Earth's alignment is specific, rare, and results in total coverage.
Scientific Development (04:07)
Ancient humans determine the Earth is round by observing lunar eclipses. In 1919, Sir Arthur Eddington proves the solar eclipse prediction of Einstein's Theory of Relativity.
Solar Atmosphere (08:59)
Coronas are visible only when the sun's disk is blocked. Artificial eclipses created by coronagraphs reveal surface eruptions, storms, and comets. In 1971, a satellite detects a coronal mass ejection. In October 2003, a series of coronal mass ejections cause a blackout and satellite failures.
Predicting Coronal Phenomenon (04:05)
During solar maximum of the sun spot cycle, mass ejections occur daily. Scientists watch for signs of the next major event. Artificial eclipses are the best monitoring systems available.
Satellite Data (10:23)
See Cassini space probe photos of a Saturn eclipse. Stereo B spacecraft captures a different view of Earth's moon in transit, and aids in the discovery of extra solar planets. Keplar measures the brightness of sun-like stars and detects eclipses. (Credits)
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