After Years Of Waiting, PARI Welcomes The Eclipse


August 21, 2017

Matt McGregor

Though there was cloud cover during the eclipse, visitors at Pisgah Astrononomical Research Institute (PARI) were able to catch quick glimpses of the eclipse behind the clouds.

And amid an overall excitement of seeing the sky becoming dark and the temperature dropping, and despite the cloud cover, the institute's 85-foot radio telescopes were still able to collect their data.

"We've been building up to this event for 20 years, and we've been planning many different experiments," said PARI President Don Cline. "With our radio telescopes, we will be collecting data from the sun's corona, and that has never been done before because of the proximity of the eclipse over the telescopes."

Cline said they are looking forward to the new data they retrieve from observing the corona, the aura, or "plasma," around the sun that can be seen during the eclipse.

Scientist gave presentations on what they would be studying during the eclipse in the morning.

Doug Knight, who teaches engineering and physics at Lenor-Rhyine University, gave a presentation on how his team will be using high-altitude balloons to take pictures of the sun and the moon's shadow.

Geoff Bland, a research engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, discussed his team of scientists with the AEROKATS (Advanced Earth Observation Kites and Terrestrial Systems) and how they will use kites with meteorological and remote sensing equipment to study the environment's reaction to the eclipse.

Looking over the crowd as the moon traversed across the sun, Clark Lovelace, the executive director of the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce, said it was an experience people would remember forever.

Matt McGregor

"Honestly, my first thought is, 'It is incredible to be standing here at PARI in Rosman, N.C., and looking at hundreds of visitors,'" Lovelace said, "Many of whom are coming from a long distance away and are going to have this wonderful memory that took place in our area."

He added that there were more than 70 members national, regional and local media at the event, which will help the moment "live beyond today."

"And just hearing the 'ooohs' and 'aaahhs' as people look at the eclipse, it's neat to have this shared experience together," Lovelace said. "And the fact that it's happening in this area makes it all the more special."


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