Solar eclipses provide an opportunity for performing scientific researchers training student researchers, and educating the public. We undertook scientific observations of the 2010 July 11 total solar eclipse from Mangaia, Cook Islands, and the 2012 November 13 total solar eclipse from Cairns, Australia with substantial graduate and undergraduate student participation. Our Florida Institute of Technology solar eclipse team, consisting of Dr. Hakeem M. Oluseyi and three FIT students collaborated with Dr. Alphonse Sterling to obtain image and polarimetric data of the solar eclipse to gain information about the solar corona, with a focus on two specific solar features: solar plumes and coronal cavities. Plumes appear around the polar regions of the Sun, and may be sources of fast solar wind. Coronal cavities, coronal features enveloping filament channels, are often the site of solar eruptions.
This project is consistent with NASA’s Strategic Sub-goal 3B: “Understand the Sun and its effects on Earth and the solar system.” This research also addresses the question, “How and why does the Sun vary?” Our student education program is consistent with NASA’s Sun-Earth Connection Strategic Goal 6: “inspire and motivate students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” which is accomplished through their central involvement in authentic hands-on research. The scientific solar eclipse image results from this project will be presented to the professional community and the public. Our goals are to advance knowledge, educate and inspire the public, and to train and inspire a new generation of scientific researchers.