If you’ve seen more than one total solar eclipse you will have seen with your own eyes how the shape of the Sun’s corona changes. Some years it’s big and chaotic, and other years it’s smaller and more defined.
So how was it in 2019, and what has it taught solar astronomers? The results are in from a big multi-eclipse study by the ‘Solar Wind Sherpas’, a group of eclipse-chasers making scientific observations during solar eclipses for over 20 years. They travel the globe chasing total solar eclipses, transporting sensitive scientific instruments on planes, helicopters, cars, and even horses to reach the optimal locations. Their solar eclipse observations have led to breakthroughs in unveiling some of the secrets of the physical processes defining the corona.
“The corona has been observed with total solar eclipses for well over a century, but never before had eclipse images been used to quantify its magnetic field structure,” said lead author of a new paper, Benjamin Boe. “I knew it would be possible to extract a lot more information by applying modern image processing techniques to solar eclipse data.”