College researchers prepare for road trips to see solar eclipse

By  | 

RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) The nation will be focused on the sky one week from Monday. That's when the solar eclipse is happening.

We won't see a total eclipse here in southwest Virginia, but many college researchers from our area are headed west to get a better look.

A team from Virginia Tech left out early Monday morning heading to the path where they'll see a total eclipse.

Radford University is also preparing for this rare opportunity. WDBJ7 caught up with the lead researcher as his team is getting their equipment ready.

This opportunity give them a chance to let a natural phenomenon help them collect data.

"Mother nature can totally block out the sun for us and we can see really close to the surface of the sun and that's what we're taking advantage of," said Michael Freed, a Solar Physicist at Radford University.

A group of 11 from Radford University are also taking a telescope to record data on their trip to Nashville, one of many cities across the nation where they'll be a total eclipse.

His team is part of the Citizen Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse Experiment. A long title for a group that stretches from Oregon to South Carolina capturing images of the sun's outer atmosphere in a limited time frame.

"The big thing that we're really interested in is trying to get an idea of what the sun's magnetic field does. It's very hard for us to predict. We have a limited amount of information. The biggest problem of course is we see only one side of the sun at any given time," Freed said.

Researchers from Virginia Tech are going to Kansas, Oregon, and South Carolina to study how the eclipse impacts communication devices like GPS, ham radios, and radar signals.

Both universities will have watch parties next Monday on campus. Virginia Tech will host one at the Holtzman Alumni Center Lawn where they'll be giving away eclipse glasses like these.

Radford University is live streaming the eclipse from its team in Nashville to the planetarium on campus where they'll be able to chat with the researchers.