Category: alexahalfordanswertime

Thanks everyone for your fantastic questions! Sorry I couldn’t…

Thanks everyone for your fantastic questions! Sorry I couldn’t answer all of them. I hope you have fun on Monday, Aug. 21st and share your photos and experiences with us! 

Safe viewing and talk to you later! 

I was looking at the GLOBE Observer experiments for citizens and was wondering how the eclipse affects the cloud type? Or, I guess, why is that an important thing to measure? Thank you for answering our questions!

As my dad likes to say, I went to college to take up space, so I’m not sure what happens in the atmosphere. However, I think that the atmospheric scientists are interested in the types of waves that will be set up by the temperature gradients generated by the eclipse. So as totality occurs you get a very fast temperature drop in a localized area. I believe this can set up strong winds which may affect the type of clouds and/or their shapes. This is going to be the best-observed eclipse! And one thing I’ve learned as a scientist is that you never know what you’ll find in your data so collect as much of it as possible even if you aren’t sure what you’ll find. That is sometimes when you get the most exciting results! Thanks for downloading the app and helping to collect the data! 

How often do solar eclipses occur on other planets like Mars or Venus?

Venus doesn’t have a moon so it never has an eclipse. Mars does have a partial eclipse or a transit of one of its moon and you can see photos at

Are we able to take a picture of it

Yup and I hope you share your photos with us on the NASA Eclipse Flicker page! You can find out about how to safely take photos of the eclipse at Good luck! 

Does the eclipse affect airplanes at all? Would pilots have to wear special glasses, and would people inside the airplane be told not to look out of the windows?

I don’t believe it should directly impact airplanes. We are looking at how the eclipse will affect radio communications which airplanes use, but that’s something we’ll learn with the data we collect during this eclipse. Pilots will need to be careful as always to not look directly at the Sun. If you are a lucky passenger on one of the flights that will cross the eclipse, make sure to bring your eclipse viewing glasses as you will need them to look at the Sun safely That would be an amazing opportunity to view the eclipse from a plane as you wouldn’t have to worry about cloud cover. You may also get a longer viewing experience if you are following the path of totality! In fact, some NASA scientist are going to be flying experiments on a couple of NASA planes!

Will we need to wear the special glasses all day or just during that 2 hour window where viewing is happening?

Deffinelty do not wear them while driving or walking around as you can’t see anything out of them (they are very very dark). But while you are driving and walking you shouldn’t be looking at the Sun anyway. You only need to wear them while you are looking at the Sun. You can use them any day to view the Sun. In a few years, when the Sun once again becomes more active, you can use these glasses and pinhole projectors to see sunspots! Make sure to check that they are ISO 12312-2 compliant, from a trusted vendor, and not scratched or damaged before using them to look at the Sun. 

If the forecast in the town you are visiting says “partly cloudy” should you be worried you won’t see anything? Looking at Hillsborough, Missouri (St. Louis area)

I believe you are in the path of totality in the St. Louise area. Even if there is complete cloud cover, you’ll likely still notice it getting darker, and you’ll definitely still feel the temperature drop. I’m not sure if you’ll notice odd animal behavior as that’s not my area of expertise, but I would think you might. I would say you should still go and see it! Especially if you are in an area with a chance of partly cloudy. You never know, the clouds may disappear for at least a portion of totality! 

What exactly is a sun eclipse? Will I be able to see it and if so when from the Netherlands?

The solar eclipse is when the moon is directly in front of the Sun and creates a shadow on the Earth. They happen about once every 18 months. I don’t believe that you’ll be able to see this eclipse from the Netherlands. I think the next one to be in Europe is in 2026. There’s one in Chillie and Argentia in 2019 and another in Antartica in 2021. 

Will normal uv protection sunglasses work?

Unfortunately no. They do not block out enough of the sunlight so you could still burn your eyes if you were to use them to look at the Sun. The ISO 12312-2 compliant eclipse glasses are so dark you literally can’t see anything out of them unless you are looking at the Sun. You can find trusted vendors through the links at If you can’t get them in time, you can also make a pinhole projector and watch the eclipse with that. 

Will there be a livestream to the solar eclipse on the NASA website?

Yup! We’ll have a live stream up They I believe will also be covering events that are happening across the US. A bunch of my office mates here are going across the US to help with the coverage and to collect data! It should be incredibly exciting!