Observable solar eclipses are rare events, and a lot is still unknown about how they interact with earth’s atmosphere. The August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse will provide a treasure trove of information, as it will take place across the United States. In order to study the atmosphere during the solar eclipse, NASA is partnering with over 57 teams across the continent to launch balloons that will provide live video of the eclipse. While this looks like an interesting opportunity, it is way too expensive for the average Amateur Radio enthusiast; each team has a budget anywhere from $6,000 to $25,000.
By Dr. Chuck Higgins, Middle Tennessee State University
Radio Jove is a NASA-affiliated education and outreach project that began in 1999 and gives students, teachers, and other interested individuals a hands-on experience in learning radio astronomy (http://radiojove.gsfc.nasa.gov). Radio Jove is a not-for-profit organization, led by a team of about eight volunteer scientists and engineers, which provides a mechanism to distribute radio telescope education kits and educational resources. Participants may build a simple radio telescope kit, make scientific observations, and interact with professional radio observatories in real-time over the Internet. Dedicated observers can help answer science questions about the nature and characteristics of low frequency radio emissions coming from Jupiter and the Sun, as well as, to understand the variability of Earth’s ionosphere. Radio Jove maintains a data archive to facilitate in the exchange of information and the validation of other ground-based and space-based radio data.
Since 1912 there have been many efforts to collect and analyze data during a solar eclipse to help understand the ionosphere. These efforts have been conducted in frequencies ranging from VLF to VHF. In most cases, individuals or small teams have collected data from disparate transmitters.