As if witnessing a natural phenomenon wasn't enough, people in the path of the total solar eclipse will also have a chance to help record history on Aug. 21.
When eclipse specialists from the University of California, Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory visit North Platte next week, they will be promoting an Eclipse Megamovie Project.
The goal of the project is to produce a high definition, time-expanded video of the eclipse that will allow scientists to analyze the sun's corona for years to come.
The video will be created using thousands of images taken by citizens at various points along the eclipse path. Those images will provide continuous datasets far exceeding what any one person could capture from a single location.
It will add a new dimension to the study of the sun's faint outer atmosphere, the corona, by showing how the corona changes over time.
Scientists have been able to observe rapid variations of the corona using radio wave studies, however, the Megamovie Project will allow them to study such processes directly using visible light – thus enriching their knowledge of the sun's dynamic atmosphere.
The experiment will be repeated when another total eclipse crosses the U.S. in 2024. That will show how the sun has changed after a period of seven years.
People can learn how to participate in the project during a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the McDonald-Belton Theater on the North Platte Community College South Campus.
"In addition to talking about the Eclipse Megamovie Project, the specialists will discuss the science of eclipses and what to watch for during an eclipse," said Lisa Burke, executive director of the North Platte/Lincoln County Visitors Bureau. "Those who attend the presentation will gain a better understanding of eclipses and learn how to get the most out of their eclipse experience."
The presentation is free and open to the public. It is being hosted by the Visitors Bureau and NPCC's STEM Club.
According to 2017nebraskaeclipse.com, the last time North Platte experienced a total solar eclipse was 310 AD. Another one is not expected to happen in the area until 2744.