Total Solar Eclipse Can Make You Shiver (a Bit)

Total Solar Eclipse of 2015 at Totality
New research shows that this total solar eclipse, captured here by NRK News in Norway's Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in March of 2015, caused a measurable temperature difference while blotting out the sun over the archipelago. (Image credit: NRK News)

A solar eclipse in March 2015 produced a slight but noticeable drop in temperature in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, a new paper shows — and the team's getting ready to observe another eclipse tomorrow.

A thermometer hanging from a camera tripod recording the eclipse observed the temperature drop 15 degrees Fahrenheit, from 8 F to -7 F (-13 to -22 degrees Celsius). Automatic temperature and pressure sensors showed only slight effects, however.

"Svalbard was central in the path of totality, and had completely clear skies," read the abstract of a recent paper on the research published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. "Measurements of shaded air temperature and atmospheric pressure show only weak, if any, responses to the reduced insolation." (Insolation refers to solar radiation hitting a given area.)

The paper was part of a special theme issue concerning the 2015 eclipse, which was partially visible from the United Kingdom. Lead author Jay Pasachoff, an astronomy professor at Williams College in Massachusetts, plans to follow up the research by observing two more solar eclipses in the next year, the college's representatives said in a statement.

Tomorrow (Sept. 1), Pasachoff's team will be at the Isle de la Réunion in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar to observe an annular solar eclipse, which occurs when the moon blocks all but a thin circular ring of the sun. This will be Pasachoff's 64th solar eclipse and 16th annular solar eclipse. 

Next year, he will visit Salem, Oregon, where his team will attempt to observe a total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: