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SunSketcher Project Calls for Volunteers to Chart the Sun's True Shape During 2024 Eclipse
Baily's Beads, tiny slivers of sunlight that pass through the pass on the surface of the moon, seen during the eclipse of 2 July 2019. Register now for the SunSketcher project to use Baily's Beads to measure the Sun. Credit P. Horalek/ESO
SunSketcher Project Calls for Volunteers to Chart the Sun's True Shape During 2024 Eclipse
by Brad Bartz
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Feb 22, 2024

In an initiative poised to reshape our understanding of the celestial sphere we orbit, the SunSketcher project invites amateur astronomers and curious minds alike to partake in a unique scientific endeavor. By leveraging the collective power of citizen scientists during the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, the project aims to delve into one of astronomy's longstanding questions: What is the true shape of the Sun?

Contrary to the common perception of the Sun as a perfect sphere, its actual shape holds subtle deviations that offer profound insights into its internal workings and the fundamental laws of physics. The SunSketcher project, harnessing the capabilities of the free SunSketcher smartphone app, seeks volunteers to capture and trace the elusive contours of sunlight during the eclipse, revealing the Sun's true form.

This ambitious experiment is set against the dramatic backdrop of the eclipse's path of totality, stretching from Texas to Maine, where the Moon will cast its shadow, completely obscuring the Sun. Participants along this path will play a crucial role by documenting the eclipse through the app, focusing on the slender beams of sunlight that peek through the Moon's rugged terrain.

The SunSketcher app serves as a bridge connecting citizen scientists with the professional astronomical community. By tracing the sunlight's path as it filters through lunar valleys, volunteers will generate data of unprecedented precision. This data, when combined with the detailed lunar maps provided by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, promises to refine our measurements of the Sun's dimensions and shape with unmatched accuracy.

The significance of this endeavor extends beyond the mere mapping of celestial bodies. Understanding the Sun's exact shape is vital for testing theories of gravity and gaining insights into solar phenomena that influence Earth's climate and space weather. Such knowledge is crucial for both academic research and practical applications, including satellite communications and navigation systems.

As the April 8 eclipse approaches, the SunSketcher project emphasizes the importance of preparation and community engagement. Interested individuals are encouraged to visit the SunSketcher website for comprehensive information on eclipses, the project's objectives, and how to participate. Registration as a SunSketcher will grant enthusiasts regular updates on the project's progress and ensure they are part of a groundbreaking journey to unravel the mysteries of our closest star.

This initiative represents a convergence of technology, community, and science, illustrating the growing impact of citizen science in expanding the frontiers of knowledge. By turning their eyes to the sky and their smartphones towards the Sun, volunteers across the eclipse's path have the unprecedented opportunity to contribute to a deeper understanding of the universe.

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