When the Moon’s shadow glides across the U.S. on August 21st, you’ll have have a chance to hear the eclipse as it happens.
Solar eclipses are more than remarkable visual astronomical phenomena; they’re pretty interesting from a radio viewpoint too. Should overcast skies prevail over your location on eclipse day, you can still make some interesting observations using an AM radio.
Dramatic changes can take place in radio reception when day changes into night and vice versa. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of driving in your car at night, listening to some program on the AM dial, when the announcer will identify the station as WBBM in Chicago. This might seem odd if you are listening from Albany, New York, more than 700 miles (1,100 km) from the Windy City. Yet, cases like this happen every night.
A total solar eclipse produces a broad, round area of darkness and greatly reduced sunlight that travels across Earth’s surface in a relatively narrow path during the daytime. Its effect on sunlight’s local intensity is remarkably similar to what happens at sunrise and sunset. Distant radio stations along and near to the path of totality might briefly experience enhanced propagation, thus making long-distance reception possible during a solar eclipse unlike any other time.
I’ll be volunteering at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) for the eclipse–they are in the path of totality. I also plan to do a spectrum recording of both the mediumwave and 31 meter band during the event.
Do any other SWLing Post readers have eclipse plans?