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8th of April 2024
Radio-astronomy pioneer Grote Reber during an expedition to Alaska to observe a total solar eclipse in 1950.
Total Solar Eclipses
The only total solar eclipse this year occurs today and is visible from part of North America. To mark this event, we reproduce (with permission) the image used in the "From the Archives" section of last month's NRAO eNews. The photo shows radio-astronomy pioneer Grote Reber, bundled up against the late summer Alaskan weather, during the Naval Research Laboratory's expedition to observe of the solar eclipse of September 12th, 1950 from the island of Attu. The weather was terrible on the day of the eclipse, but fortuntely NRL was making radio observations. In a letter to Otto Struve, Reber wrote, "The Attu eclipse was probably the first total eclipse of the sun which was successfully observed in a pouring rain during a hurricane. Good results were achieved at 3, 10, 67cm wavelength." Results from the NRL observations were published in the Astronomical Journal.

Attu Island (53N, 173E), part of the Aleutian Islands chain, is the westernmost point of the US state of Alaska. Despite its eastern longitude, the International Date Line passes to the west of Attu Island. Reber later moved to Tasmania and continued his research in low-frequency radio astronomy. (Image credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF. Thanks also to Ellen Bouton and Brian Kent)

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