July 21, 2017 6:41 pm

NASA to use 11 different spacecraft to measure the sun during solar eclipse

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As thousands in the United States (and Canada) get ready to view the Aug. 21 solar eclipse through their special glasses, NASA will be using 11 different spacecraft to study the sun’s outer atmosphere during the duration of the eclipse, NASA scientist Dr. Michelle Thaller said.

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“The moon is blocking out the main bright disk of the sun. So you can actually see what those levels of solar atmosphere are doing. It’s called the corona. It’s spectacular. And actually the way the corona works is still fairly mysterious,” Thaller said on Friday.

READ MORE: What Canadians can expect during the solar eclipse on August 21

NASA will also fly high-altitude research balloons and airplanes for solar physics and other experiments.

During the eclipse, the moon will pass between the sun and Earth, blocking the face of the sun and leaving only its outer atmosphere, or corona, visible in the sky.

If you’re lucky enough the be in the eclipse’s direct path — spanning Oregon to South Carolina — you’ll get the full show as the sun is completely blocked out, day becomes night, and even the animals and plants around you react.

If you’re a bit further north, in Toronto, Vancouver or even St. John’s, you’ll still be treated to a partial celestial spectacle.

It is the first American coast-to-coast total eclipse since 1918.

Total solar eclipses occur somewhere on Earth every year or so, but most cast their shadow over oceans or remote land. The last total eclipse over part of the contiguous U.S. was in 1979.

 *with a file from Monique Scotti

© 2017 Reuters

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