Press Release

Live from solar eclipse in Africa, media can interview NASA Marshall astronomer Thursday

By SpaceRef Editor
June 19, 2001
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What:
Live via telephone Thursday, June 21, during the first solar eclipse of
the new millennium, news media will have the opportunity to interview a NASA
astronomer who will witness the phenomenon from an ideal vantage point of
Lusaka, Zambia. As a professional astronomer, she will be able to discuss
more than its spectacular visual appeal.

That total solar eclipses occur on Earth is the result of an extreme set of
coincidences. Most planets do not have total solar eclipses because the
phenomenon requires many elements to come together — the size of the
planet’s moon, the size of the Sun, and the distance between the planet, its
moon and the Sun. If Earth’s Moon were farther from our planet or smaller in
size, total eclipses would not occur. The Moon is slowly moving away from
Earth, so in the far-distant future, Earth will no longer have eclipses.

This year’s total eclipse will take place on the summer solstice, when the
Sun reaches its northern-most point in relation to Earth. The entire event
will last approximately two hours, beginning 7:09 a.m. and ending 9:12 a.m.
CDT. The total portion of the eclipse — sometimes called “totality,” during
which the Moon will completely block the view of the Sun and leave the Earth
below bathed in darkness — is expected to last more than three minutes,
beginning at 8:09 a.m. and ending at 8:12 a.m. CDT.

Who:
Mitzi Adams, astronomer
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., based at the
National Space Science and Technology Center in Huntsville

When: Thursday, June 21, 2001 6:45 a.m. – 7:20 a.m. CDT 8:30 a.m. – 9:15
a.m. CDT

Where: Via telephone from Lusaka, Zambia

Interviews: News media interested in interviewing Mitzi Adams via
telephone during the eclipse should contact Steve Roy of the Marshall Media
Relations Department at (256) 544-0034.

SpaceRef staff editor.