Space Weather & Space Climate
Our Sun constantly emits solar radiation and energetic particles, which cause space weather and space climate. The effects of this can be as beautiful as aurora and as damaging as power outages. Explore the resources below to learn more!
What is an eclipse?
A solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, blocking the Sun's light. This can create a shadow on Earth, where the sky darkens and the Sun looks like a dark disk or a ring of light. Solar eclipses can be total, partial, or annular, depending on how much of the Sun's light is blocked.
Cultural Beliefs Surrounding Eclipses
Native American cultures have diverse views on eclipses. For example, the Navajo people believe that an eclipse is a sacred time when the sun and moon are interacting. They treat eclipses with reverence and prayer, and they often stay indoors during an eclipse. The Shoshone-Bannock tribes in Idaho believed that bad things would happen to bad people during eclipses. The Pawnee people of Oklahoma saw eclipses as a time of sorrow, as they believed that an eclipse meant that a great leader was going to die. Overall, eclipses are seen by Native Americans as a time of great spiritual significance. They are an opportunity to connect with the natural world and the spirit realm.
Would you like to view the eclipse through one of our specially designed eclipse glasses? Request Eclipse Glasses here! Please use this form to request glasses to view the October 14th 2023 annular eclipse and the April 8th 2024 total solar eclipse.
These glasses are free of charge, and are offered through the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Education, Engagement and Early-Career Development (EdEC) Engagement section. Requests will be fulfilled, when possible, on a first-come-first-served basis. We’re offering shipment via prepaid FedEx labels or local pickup at specific locations/times. You will not be able to pick up glasses at the Mesa Laboratory outside of the delivery windows we establish. Further details will come via email.
Total Solar Eclipse
April 8th, 2024
Folks in Mexico, across much of the continental United States, and eastern Canada will have the opportunity to experience a total solar eclipse. This chance is a rare opportunity, and one that will not come back through the continental US until 2045!
Total Solar Eclipses and the Corona
How do scientists use total solar eclipses to study the outer atmosphere of our Sun, known as the corona? We talk with NCAR scientist Dr. Paul Bryans to learn more.
Path of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse
NCAR Field Campaigns
A field campaign is a scientific investigation that takes place outside of a laboratory. Scientists go to a specific place or country to collect data and make observations. They use this data to learn more about the natural world and how it works. Scientists use a variety of tools and equipment to collect data, such as cameras, telescopes, dropsondes, even planes! Field campaigns can be short or long and they are an important part of scientific research and help us learn more about our world.
Check out some of the field campaigns and other ways NCAR studies solar eclipses!
Featured Scientist: Rebecca Centeno, Ph.D.
NCAR Explorer Series Lectures
Explore the science of space weather and space climate, and the people studying them, with these science lectures and discussions:
When you need darkness to see the light: Total solar eclipses — Dr. Paul Bryans shares the history of solar eclipse observations and how NCAR will study the sun during the 2024 solar eclipse.
- From numbers to images: Visualizing space weather — learn from Dr. Mike Wiltberger how we use images and visualizations that help us understand the dynamics of the near Earth space environment.
- Understanding how we see our Sun's atmosphere Dr. Anna Malanushenko shares some unexpected results of her recent work comparing observations of sunlight with modeled structures of the solar atmosphere.
- Keeping an Eye on the Sun's Magnetism — learn about the ways we study our Sun and how the Sun's magnetism drives space weather with Dr. Rebecca Centeno Elliott.
- Space Storms in the Upper Atmosphere and Ionosphere — Dr. Stan Solomon discusses the physics and chemistry that controls the ionosphere.
- The Lower Fringes of Outer Space: The Thermosphere & Ionosphere — learn from Dr. Liying Qian about space weather and space climate, and the impact they could have on space technology.
- The Sun, the Moon, and Us: A Guide to the Great American Eclipse of 2017 — Learn about what causes a solar eclipse, the sun's atmosphere, and how scientists study the solar corona with Dr. Scott McIntosh.
MetEd Learning Modules
MetEd is a free collection of hundreds of training resources on a variety of topics within the Earth system sciences offered through The COMET® Program. A free account is needed to access the modules, which are available in many languages.