Raymond Benge, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, TCC NE Campus, gave a presentation on solar eclipses that informed and intrigued the audience at the J. Ardis Bell library on October 17. Professor Benge started out explaining exactly what a solar eclipse is and demonstrating with a globe and ball what the positions of the earth and moon would be in an eclipse. He went on to explain why we don’t see eclipses every month because of the slight differences in earth and moon orbits.
In 1878, Fort Worth, Texas, happened to be a hotspot for science observation when seven astronomers set up telescopes on a farm located where the hospital district is now just south of downtown. Because observation of the sun was mostly possible at that time during total solar eclipses, the group of astronomers from Harvard University traveled to Fort Worth to study the Sun’s corona, chromosphere, and the solar magnetic field. The NE Campus Heritage Room has a donated copy of an 1878 photo of the astronomers with their telescopes set up for the observation.
Professor Benge traveled to Tennessee for the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017. This was his first observation of a total solar eclipse and was practice for upcoming eclipses that will be viewable in the DFW area. During the recent 2017 eclipse, he was able to observe differences in shadows, light, temperature, and bird and insect behaviors.
Upcoming Texas viewable solar eclipses to place on your calendar: October 14, 2023—a deep partial eclipse, and April 8, 2024—a total solar eclipse visible in the DFW area. Keep your fingers crossed for clear skies!
In Astronomy, NE Library, Science & Technology, Solar Eclipse, Special Events, STEM