The solar eclipse, the astronomical event of the year, will not be seen in Italy on Monday. Live online


By John

After more than two years of waiting, the hunt for the “Black Sun” is once again on: on Monday 8 April the total solar eclipse returns, which promises to be the astronomical event of the year. The phenomenon will not be visible from Italy, but only from North and Central America, from Mexico to Canada. The show will start when it is 5.42pm here and will end at 10.52pm.

The maximum duration of the totality phase will be close to 4 and a half minutes. It will be a golden opportunity for enthusiasts and researchers, such as those from the National Institute of Astrophysics who are preparing to fly overseas to “paparase” the Sun and the elusive “flying shadows” produced by the Earth's atmosphere during the eclipse, but not only that: they will also try to make a “family portrait” of the Solar System and to immortalise the vulcanoid asteroids, hitherto theoretically predicted but never observed.

Telescopes and cameras will focus their objectives above all to study in detail the outermost part of the solar atmosphere, the corona, which on this occasion will be visible precisely in conjunction with the solar maximum, that is, the period of maximum activity of the Sun which occurs presents every 11 years. The corona, usually hidden by the star's glare, represents one of astronomy's greatest unsolved mysteries. It is made up of an electrically charged gas (the so-called plasma) which extends for millions of kilometers and which despite this is hundreds of times hotter than the solar surface, with a temperature exceeding one million degrees. It therefore remains to understand which mechanisms determine the transfer of energy to the plasma.

The solar corona will be the main topic of study of Lucia Abbo's team from INAF in Turin, which will document the eclipse from Mexico thanks to three different telescopes to carry out measurements (some never done before) of the coronal structures and their magnetic field. The INAF team in Rome led by Ernesto Palomba will also study the solar corona, but will do so from Texas, one of the best places to observe the eclipse because it is crossed by the central line of the lunar shadow.

The researchers will also look for the possible presence of volcanoids, hypothetical objects which, according to some theories on the formation of the Solar System, could move around the Sun, within the orbit of Mercury. Albino Carbognani, a researcher at INAF in Bologna, will also go to Texas to hunt for volcanoids: among other things, he will try to verify how many stars can be seen in the sky during the eclipse and will try to document the elusive and unpredictable phenomenon of “flying shadows”. “, parallel light and dark bands produced shortly before the onset of totality by the Earth's atmosphere. During the eclipse he will also attempt a family portrait of all the planets in the Solar System along with comet 12P / Pons-Brooks. Also for the INAF in Bologna, Maura Sandri will also fly to America and photograph the eclipse from Niagara on the Lake. Finally, Clementina Sasso of INAF in Naples will follow the eclipse from a scientific meeting in San Antonio, Texas, where she will lead the “Eruption Watch” campaign in search of solar eruptions with all the telescopes on board the Solar Orbiter satellite.