The corona is largely responsible for our solar weather here on Earth. The solar wind, solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are born in the corona.

The solar wind is a stream of charged particles released from the upper atmosphere of the Sun. This plasma consists of mostly electrons, protons and alpha particles. At a distance of more than a few solar radii from the Sun, the solar wind reaches speeds of 1.5 to 5 million miles per hour.

The solar wind, flares and CMEs affect our earth in many ways and some can be quite destructive to how we live today. 

Why Observe the Corona?

The temperature of the corona at the sun’s surface is 5800 K; further from the sun it is 1 to 10 million K! The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics prevents heat from flowing directly from the photosphere (surface). Somehow, the energy from within the sun is carried to the corona by non-thermal processes; BUT HOW? We hope the CATE observations will provide the clue to solve this question.

A CME on 8/31/12 caused aurora on Earth on 9/3/12 - that's 93 million miles in 3 days = 130,000 mph!


Citizen Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse (CATE) Experiment


Coronal loops are the basic structures of the magnetic solar corona. Due to the heightened magnetic activity in these coronal loop regions, coronal loops can often be the precursor to solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

The sun's corona is the plasma envelope of the sun and other stars. The corona extends millions of miles into space and is normally visible only during a total solar eclipse and looks like an irregularly shaped glow surrounding the dark disk of the moon. It has  mysteries too.

Boyce-Astro was selected to man one of the observation sites for the Citizen CATE Experiment for the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. We have trained a team of students, instructors and pro-am astronomers to perform the observations at the Madras, Oregon site adajacent to the Erickson Aircraft Collection museum there. Our team has been sponsored by the Exploratorium in San Francisco who is televising the eclipse from there for NASA. 

The Citizen CATE Experiment uses use a fleet of over 60 telescopes to observe the total solar eclipse continuously from coast to coast across the USA.  While the totality phase of the eclipse will last only 2+ minutes at each site, the combined CATE movie will reveal for the first time how the inner solar corona changes over 90 minutes.

This CATE data and high-resolution movie will provide a new understanding of the magnetic fields and plasmas in the inner solar corona. Students and pro-am astronomer volunteers staff the CATE telescope sites. Private and corporate donors have paid for the equipment at the 60+ sites. Here's the CATE project's website