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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: <a  href="">NRK News</a>)

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
Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is pursuing a Ph.D. part-time in aerospace sciences (University of North Dakota) after completing an M.Sc. (space studies) at the same institution. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @HowellSpace.