Baylor Professor and Space Weather Scientist Provides Tips for Watching the Total Solar Eclipse, Details on the Next Eclipse

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    Dr. Trey Cade and senior Courtney Turner monitor space weather activity in Baylor's Space Weather Research Laboratory. (Baylor/Robert Rogers)
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    Trey Cade, Ph.D., assistant research professor and director of the Baylor Institute for Air Science (Baylor/Robert Rogers)
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    Baylor professor and space weather scientist Trey Cade, Ph.D., in front of real-time displays of the sun (Baylor/Robert Rogers)
Aug. 16, 2017

Media contact: Tonya B. Hudson, (254) 710-4656

WACO, Texas (Aug. 16, 2017) – For three hours on August 21, the moon will pass in front of the sun causing a total solar eclipse. While Waco will not experience a full eclipse, it will be worth viewing, according to a Baylor professor and space weather scientist.

“In Waco, we will not experience a total eclipse but a partial eclipse,” said Trey Cade, Ph.D., assistant research professor and director of the Baylor Institute for Air Science. “About 70 percent of the sun will be covered, which will still make it noticeably darker.”

In Waco, the partial solar eclipse will last from 11:40 a.m. to 2:39 p.m., reaching maximum coverage at 1:10 p.m.

Even with a partial eclipse of the sun, Cade said wearing special eyewear is necessary.

“Never try to observe a solar eclipse directly, even with sunglasses. Only use special eclipse-viewing glasses that meet ISO safety standards to directly view an eclipse,” Cade said. “Alternatively, you can project an image of the sun using binoculars or a pinhole camera. Instructions can be found online.”

Certain sections of the United States will experience a total solar eclipse. The path of totality will be a 70-mile wide path that will cross several states from Oregon to South Carolina passing through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina.

“A total eclipse is a spectacular experience,” Cade said. “For those in the path of totality, 100 percent of the sun will be covered from a few seconds to about 2.5 minutes, depending on how close one is to the center of the path.

“During that time, it will appear to be twilight, stars may be visible and there will be a sudden drop in temperature in the middle of the day. Also, viewers will be able to see the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, which is only visible during a total solar eclipse,” Cade said.

He noted that if there is inclement weather or cloud cover in a viewing area, spectators will not be able to see the eclipse.

Even if one cannot get to the path of totality, the closer one is the better it will be, Cade said.

While solar eclipses occur about every 18 months, some locations on earth may experience anywhere from a few years to several centuries between eclipses. Although this year Waco will only experience a partial solar eclipse, the future looks bright for another opportunity.

“The good news is that, if you miss this one, a total solar eclipse will pass directly over Waco on April 8, 2024 with four minutes of totality,” Cade said.

For those planning to follow the eclipse’s path, Cade offered advice.

“If you are expecting to travel to see the eclipse, be aware that most hotels along the path of totality are already completely booked, and any that do have openings will be very expensive,” Cade said. “It is also anticipated that this will be one of the worst traffic days in United States’ history.”


Dr. Trey Cade served in the United States Air Force for 22 years, working primarily as a space weather scientist before coming to Baylor University. He is currently the director of the Baylor Institute for Air Science and an assistant research professor in the Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics, and Engineering Research (CASPER). Dr. Cade manages the Aviation Sciences program, a degree designed to prepare students for careers in the aviation industry. In addition to teaching courses in leadership, meteorology, and space weather, he conducts research in Baylor’s Space Weather Research Laboratory.


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