Countdown to the eclipse

Mar 12, 2024

2 min

Adam Frank

The countdown is on for the total solar eclipse on April 8 and Adam Frank, professor of astrophysics, science commentator, and popular author, is available to comment on:

  • Earth's eclipses are the result of a cosmic accident! No other world has such a relatively large moon. Our Moon is the result of a titanic collision with a Mars sized planet more than 4 billion years ago.
  • Earth is likely the only planet that experiences a solar corona/ring of fire during a total eclipse. That's because the size of the moon and the size of the sun appear to be roughly the same from Earth.
  • The moon is slowly drifting away from the Earth so the kind of eclipses we experience are also an accident in time. Were not possible before, won't be possible later.
  • Eclipses must have been terrifying for early humans. Learning to predict them helped establish the possibility for science.
  • Today eclipses can be a way to help people understand and appreciate the sciences.
  • The science surrounding the eclipse is the same science that gives us vaccines and helps us understand climate change (science is science).
  • The "devil comet" may be visible during the eclipse. The comet passes by Earth every 71 years. The comet, which glows green and red, gets its nickname from outbursts that take on the shape of horns.

Adam Frank is a frequent on-air commentator for live interviews and segments in national media outlets. He also regularly contributes to written publications, including The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and Scientific American. In 2021 he received the Carl Sagan Medal, which recognizes and honors outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public. It is awarded to scientists whose efforts have significantly contributed to a public understanding of, and enthusiasm for, planetary science. His most recent book is The Little Book of Aliens (Harper Collins, 2023).

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Adam Frank

Adam Frank

Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Frank is a leading expert on how stars form and how they die, as well as civilizations before humans

US Space ProgramSpace TravelScience and ReligionEvolution of Stars and PlanetsPhysics and Astronomy

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School choice refers to a set of policies that create options for families and students that are not directly linked to their neighborhood of residence. The concept of school choice has changed drastically in the last three decades. Until the mid-1990s, it typically involved moving to a different neighborhood or sending a child to a private school at the parent’s expense. Then, in 1991, Minnesota passed the country’s first charter school law. In the three-plus decades since then, charter schools and other school choice options have proliferated. 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Q: Do private school vouchers benefit the students they were originally designed to help? While private schools have long been a schooling option for families, explains Singleton, there are often barriers to entry, including admission standards or tuition fees. Private school voucher programs use public funding to give students scholarship or other financial support to attend private schools. These voucher programs have historically targeted economically disadvantaged students attending low-performing public schools, explains Singleton. Yet the students who actually use such vouchers tend to be more advantaged, higher-performing students. Why aren’t more economically disadvantaged students using vouchers? The reasons are twofold, according to Singleton. The first is information: “Parents and students may not know that they are eligible for vouchers or know how to navigate the process of redeeming it to attend a private school,” he says. The second reason is access. “Just because a student is eligible for a voucher does not mean there’s a high-quality private school that agrees that the school fits the student’s needs. Also, transportation to private schools is typically not available to economically disadvantaged students,” he says. Q: Why are fewer high-performing students from disadvantaged backgrounds applying to selective schools, such as magnet schools and private schools? There’s been a lot of discussion about how to make the student body in selective schools more diverse. What policies can be enacted to make such schools more reflective of a school district’s student body? Part of the issue, according to Singleton, has to do with students who are not applying. “If you look at students from disadvantaged backgrounds—who are often from underrepresented minorities—those students are much less likely to be applying to selective schools in the first place. 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