A rare solar eclipse occurs in Antarctica. Researchers record changes in space weather that are causing an eclipse. The next total eclipse in Antarctica will occur in 2039.
An eclipse, when the Sun and Moon are in line with the Earth, is fully visible from Antarctica, from the Ronne Ice Shelf, Ellsworth Land, Argentine, Chilean, and British Antarctic Territories, as well as the uninhabited Land of Mary Bird. In the southern regions of South America, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, the eclipse will be partial. The maximum eclipse is predicted at 07:33 GMT. A solar eclipse closes the eclipse corridor that began on November 19 with a partial lunar eclipse.
Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey have placed a low-power magnetometer (LPM) that measures the fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field during an eclipse. In addition to the magnetometer, the eclipse is monitored using a network of sensors.
Changes in the Earth’s magnetic field are caused by electric currents in the upper atmosphere of both polar regions, which are affected by space weather. Magnetic vibrations provoke unwanted electrical currents in the electrical networks of the Earth. They need to be predicted to avoid damage.
“We expect solar eclipses to alter electrical currents in the upper atmosphere by increasing electrical resistance in the upper atmosphere, but we don’t fully understand how,” says Professor Mervyn Freeman, a space physicist with the British Antarctic Survey.
Total solar eclipses give researchers the opportunity to understand exactly how the Sun affects space weather. Solar eclipses affect space weather, which affects power grids and satellite navigation.