College of Science; Research

Liebenberg’s research shines more light on coronal emissions during total solar eclipses


Clemson adjunct professor Donald Liebenberg studied his 27th total solar eclipse from his driveway in Seneca, S.C.
Clemson adjunct professor Donald Liebenberg studied his 27th total solar eclipse from his driveway in Salem, S.C.

CLEMSON – Donald Liebenberg’s research on an unusual short duration transient in the FeXIV coronal emission line during the Aug. 21, 2017 total solar eclipse has been published in a 2019 volume of Solar Physics.

Solar Physics is a journal for solar and solar-related research and the study of solar terrestrial physics.

Liebenberg’s article, titled “Transient Dimming of the Bright Fe XIV Emission Region in the Solar Corona of the 21 August 2017 Total Solar Eclipse,” can be found on pages 25-32 of Volume 294 of the journal. The well-known scientist conducted his research for the article from his driveway in Salem, S.C.

“We had seen evidence of five-minute period oscillations of the corona emission line intensity during the Concorde flight and more recently 15- to 25-second period oscillations,” said Liebenberg, who has been an adjunct professor in the College of Science’s department of physics and astronomy since 1996. “But this dimming transient was most interesting since it is likely associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME) that occurred earlier near that region of the corona.”

Liebenberg has personally witnessed 27 total solar eclipse during his 60-plus years of study. All told, he has spent more than two and a half hours in totality, which surpasses anyone else on Earth.

Liebenberg has literally travelled around the world to enter the path of totality of solar eclipses. He has studied them from the ground, on ships in the middle of oceans, and in airplanes. He even watched one eclipse from the cabin of a Concorde supersonic airliner, where he was able to remain within the window of totality for an astounding 74 minutes.

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