Total solar eclipses cast an eerie darkness over the day, but astronomers say that's an ideal time to study the sun. Jeff Hall is an astronomer and sun expert at Lowell Observatory. He says when the sun’s brilliance is blocked out by the moon, other solar features appear.
A Flagstaff librarian is restoring century-old maps of Flagstaff once used by cowboys to determine grazing areas and water sources. Claudine Taillac says they were found in the basement of the historic Babbitt Building and were in need of some TLC. They were weathered, frayed and covered in dirt.
Planetary scientists in Flagstaff study Mars as if they are there. And virtually, they are. Northern Arizona University’s Mars Lab immerses them into the Martian environment with the aid of 3D goggles and the latest images from the Curiosity Rover and orbiting satellites. Christopher Edwards runs the Mars Rover Operations and Analysis Laboratory where he can explore old lake beds, collapsed lava flows, shifting sand dunes and rocky ridges.
Scientists have noticed a sharp population decline in monarch butterflies migrating between Mexico and Canada. Flagstaff entomologist Mike Wagner wants to know if growing more milkweed will boost their numbers. Milkweed is a pollinator plant for many insects and the only plant on which monarchs will lay their eggs.
Northern Arizona University is home to a giant collection of dried plant specimens that scientists across the globe use as a resource center. The Deaver Herbarium is essentially a plant museum that holds more than 120 thousand samples from the Southwest, some gathered more than 100 years ago. Biologist Tina Ayers is the director and curator.