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UM Scientists To Send Up High Tech Balloons To Study Solar Eclipse

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A NASA higher education program called the Montana Space Grant Consortium will be conducting two separate experiments in conjunction with the highly anticipated solar eclipse on August 21.

Assistant Director Jennifer Fowler said the two projects involve high-altitude balloons.

“We will be doing a live stream to the NASA website with about 60 different balloons across the country,” Fowler began. “Additionally, we have weather balloons going up to measure basic atmospheric parameters, such as temperature, relative humidity and pressure, as well as wind. Those two will be flown all across the United States on a time schedule throughout the eclipse.”

Fowler said the full view of the eclipse will only cross a small part of Montana.

“In Missoula, the eclipse can be seen at about 11:30 a.m. at its totality, but we’ll only see about 90 percent,” she said. “The totality is about 100 kilometers wide, and it goes from the Oregon coast across to Charleston, South Carolina.The totality itself will only last about two and a half minutes, but that will vary in different locations across the United States. The last time we had one that could be seen across the United States was over a hundred years ago.”

There are two websites available to get more details about NASA’s coverage if the eclipse, the NASA website itself, and another specifically geared to the University of Montana. 

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