Scientists prepare for a solar eclipse

March 20, 2006 at 4:55 PM
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., March 20 (UPI) -- A team of Williams College faculty and students is preparing to observe the March 29 total solar eclipse that will sweep across the Earth.

Six undergraduates are joining Jay Pasachoff, Bryce Babcock and Steven Souza of the astronomy and physics departments on an expedition to Kastellorizo, a small island east of Rhodes in the Greek Dodecanese. Aside from Cyprus, it is the farthest eastern point of Europe, so many eclipse watchers are expected to gather there.

The Williams group will be on site a week in advance to set up, test, and align its equipment. The group is working with Professor John Seiradakis of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, continuing a collaboration begun with joint observations of the 2004 transit of Venus.

The eclipse will start at dawn on the eastern tip of Brazil and sweep across the Atlantic, over western and northern Africa, across the Mediterranean and Kastellorizo, less than 2 miles off the Turkish coast. After passing over the middle of Turkey, totality will continue across central Asia before ending at sunset in northwestern Mongolia.

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