Space Science and the Solar Eclipse

A composition of 29 eclipse images taken between 2nd contact 10:10:40 UT, 3rd contact 10:13:08 UT. The solar corona can only be observed during a solar eclipse. (Photo: Miroslav Druckmüller)

Student research and educational opportunities will take center stage August 19-21 during a weekend of events open to the public at Oregon State campuses in Corvallis and Bend in preparation for the total solar eclipse. Activities will also highlight the Oregon NASA Space Grant program, which has paved the way for Oregon students to enter the aerospace workforce for 25 years.

On average, about 35 students from Oregon participate annually in NASA internships, says Jack Higginbotham, Oregon NASA Space Grant director. Research experiences in robotics, satellite systems, computer science, rocketry and unmanned aerial systems, aka drones, propel students into careers with NASA as well as with companies such as SpaceX.

At the festival in Corvallis in August, the public can learn more about the Space Grant program as well as space science at OSU. Workshops will include a discussion of gamma ray bursts with Davide Lazzati and solar eclipse physics with Randal Milstein, OSU instructor and astronomer-in-residence with Oregon Space Grant.

The public will also see high-altitude rockets designed and built by OSU students, a replica of OSU’s award-winning Mars rover and “Totality,” an art exhibit featuring responses to human exploration of the universe.

The eclipse will occur Monday morning, August 21, beginning about 9:00 and ending at 11:30. The sky will go dark for about 2 minutes at 10:17. Since looking directly at the sun can cause severe eye damage, special glasses will be available at the OSU event.

“For many of us, a total solar eclipse is our only chance to ever see the incredible splendor of our sun’s corona,” says Milstein. “This is the first total eclipse since 1776 with its path of totality completely within the continental United States.”

The program opens a 15-month-long celebration of OSU150 events in recognition of the 150th anniversary of Oregon State’s founding and designation as a land grant university. For more information and a schedule of events, see