Solar Eclipses and the Transit of Mercury 2016

Conversation Date: 
Monday, February 22, 2016
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM PST (3:00 PM - 4:30 PM EST)


Note that many resources for Solar Eclipses are applicable for transits (i.e. "micro-eclipses), so we consolidated them here.  See resources, and download the presentation files (includes great graphics for you to use), audio, and transcript at the bottom of the page.

Overview:        Eclipses throughout time have brought people together. They have caused fears, excitement, and reverence to some observers. They have also been useful to astronomers in unraveling the mysteries of the universe. This talk will examine the methods used and discoveries from solar eclipses, the transit of Mercury, and transiting extrasolar planets. It will also connect NASA mission science to the celestial happenings. To prepare for a celebration of the March 8-9, 2016 total solar eclipse, speakers will highlight some of the education outreach resources available through NASA and the Exploratorium.

Presentation resources:

Lou Mayo is a planetary scientist for ADNET at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Professor of Astronomy at Marymount University. He has supported many NASA space and Earth science research, missions, data systems, and the Voyager IRIS and Cassini CIRS instrument teams. He has published a number of papers on the atmosphere of Titan focusing on radiative transfer modeling of aerosols and condensates. Currently, he is the project manager for the Heliophysics Education Consortium.

Eric Christian is a particle physicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He has supported and managed a number of NASA missions, including Solar Probe Plus, IBEX, STEREO, ACE, and Voyager. He was also been actively involved in education outreach.

Nicole Minor is the director of a group of media content creators at the Exploratorium. She produces videos, live webcasts, artists installations, podcasts, music compositions and other content for both the Exploratorium website and the museum floor.

Troy Cline:  Before coming to Goddard, Troy was a high school mathematics teacher and educational technology coordinator at an alternative high school in Virginia, working with at-risk students. During that time he also completed a Master's degree in educational technology and leadership at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. His undergraduate degree was in education with a strong focus on science and mathematics.

Prior to working in Virginia, his teaching career took him to some exceptional places, beginning with his first teaching experience on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Kinlichee, Arizona. While there he taught in a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school for three years. He later joined the United States Peace Corps and served in Chad, Africa, as an algebra and geometry teacher. That experience teaching in Africa involved living in a mud hut and teaching over three hundred Chadian students in a classroom made of elephant grass. At that time the Chadian government was attempting to create a stabilized educational system so that as the country became more developed, an effective structure would already be in place.

Carolyn Ng is an education specialist for Honeywell at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. She has supported many NASA Earth and space science projects and data systems. She works with Elaine Lewis and others on the Sun-Earth Day program.

Additional info:
NASA Eclipse Website:
Exploratorium Eclipse Website:

Mercury Transit on May 9th, 2016: The first Mecury transit in 10 years, the next ones being in 2019 and 2032.
Note that, in terms of methods and safety, all solar eclipse viewing tips and resources also apply to Mercury Transit viewing.  The only difference is the magnification needed to effectively view the transit.

We've expanded to a full Transit 2016 resource page, including member-created resources and much more.  Here are the basics, though:

This telecon is organized in conjuction with the NASA Solar System Ambassadors Program.

Recording Files:
Audio (15.23 MB)
Transcript File:
Transcript (220 KB)