The Great American Eclipse is over, and we can all forget about it and get on with our lives, right?
Not so fast. The scientists who studied the eclipse will continue to pore over the data gathered and publish scientific studies for years.
During the eclipse, one of the most important observations was of the sun's corona, the sun's thin, outer atmosphere that's only visible during total eclipses.
The corona is so dim that it's usually totally overwhelmed by the light from the sun, Space.com said, but during the total solar eclipse, that light was conveniently blocked.
That allowed astronomers to study the shape, structure and extent of the sun's corona. Of particular interest is the magnetic field of the sun’s corona, which can help improve predictions of when the sun might erupt with a solar flare or coronal mass ejection, which can affect telecommunications systems here on Earth.
“Total solar eclipses mostly tell us about the structure of the solar corona and its influence on the solar wind and on the interplanetary magnetic field," said Edward Rhodes of the University of Southern California.
Orbiting satellites also captured reams of data during the eclipse, NASA said.
In addition, NASA's Eclipse Ballooning Project Students conducted high-altitude balloon flights from 30 locations across the total eclipse path, sending live video and images from near space NASA about the Earth's weather and other information.
Atmospheric scientists closely monitored changes in temperature and other weather changes. In Tennessee, for example, the temperature dropped as much as 7 degrees in Crossville, the National Weather Service reported.
Scientists at zoos and aquariums across the country also closely watched animal behavior during the eclipse, which will be studied in the months ahead. At the Memphis Zoo, for instance, though not in the path of totality, animals such as elephants, hippos, crocodiles and penguins exhibited unusual behavior.
“We saw some subtle changes to Asali’s behavior,” said Amanda Schweighart, the elephant manager, referring to an elephant at the zoo. “She’s the youngest of our herd, and she went into an 'alert' stance, that lasted several seconds. Once she reunited herself with her two herd mates, her behavior returned to normal.”
Young giraffes at the Nashville zoo were also spotted running in circles during the eclipse.