Rochester Eclipse: Two U of R freshmen, a NASA telescope and one of the best eclipse assignments in the USA

NASA Telescope

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – As we all put our glasses on and watch the eclipse, NASA is going to be watching too.

And out of hundreds of applicants, NASA picked three freshmen from the U of R to be their eyes on the ground here.

Asad Shahab and Adam Bowen assembled the NASA telescope on campus. They and another friend are going to set up at Sodus Point on eclipse day. An oversized remote sets coordinates, the mount tracks the sun and a tiny camera records the eclipse as it moves across the sky.

Berkeley Brean: “Whose idea was this?”
Asad Shahab, Fr., Applied Mathematics: “I just saw an ad posting on Google and since I’ve been doing astronomy for a few years now I decided – why not give it a shot and I just dragged Adam along.”
Adam Bowen, Fr. Computer Science: “I thought it was a fantastic opportunity. Astronomy has always been very interesting to me.”
Asad, from Pakistan and Adam, from England are part of more than 30 teams along the eclipse path recording the moon and sun.

NASA will edit their video along with that of the citizens with NASA telescopes and use the images to study the sun’s corona — the outer rim of the sun that is nearly impossible to see without an eclipse.

Berkeley Brean: “Why do you think NASA picked you guys?”
Asad Shahab: “It’s probably because they wanted to give us an opportunity since we were probably one of the only or the few youngsters who applied for this.”
Adam Bowen:
“I think its our diverse backgrounds. We both had experience doing this in our home countries. I’m from England and Asad’s from Pakistan. So I think part of the compelling reason is that we both gave a fresh perspective to what we had to offer to the competition. It’s not everyday you have a team filled with an Englishman and Pakistani guy right?”

Berkeley Brean: “At the U of R”

Adam Bowen: “Exactly.”

Amir Caspi, Principal investigator for Citizen CATE 2024: “Our goal really is to try and show that professional quality science is accessible and doable by everyone.”
Amir Caspi is the principal investigator for NASA’s eclipse project that starts in the hands of people like Asad and Adam.

Berkeley Brean: “And the value of that for those of us back here on earth is what?”

Amir Caspi: “So there is the value of fundamental science right? We live around a star.”
The video shot by Asad and Adam will help Caspi and his team study the sun’s solar storms that can knock out satellites and divert airplanes.

Amir Caspi: “They can cause GPS outages, cell phones can stop working for a while. So all of these things which we call space weather start at the sun.”

NASA hopes it will get a continuous, hour-long movie of the sun in total eclipse.