March 27, 2024

NASA scientist to discuss eclipse history, discoveries at SIU

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. – A series of public talks at Southern Illinois University Carbondale about the upcoming total solar eclipse concludes Friday, April 5, with a NASA planetary research scientist.

lou_mayo2.jpgLou Mayo, a planetary scientist and professor of astronomy at Marymount University, will speak at 3 p.m. at the Guyon Auditorium at Morris Library. He will give a talk titled “Eclipses, Occultations, and Transits.” The free, public event is the final Journey to the Eclipse talk at SIU prior to the April 8 event.

Mayo will describe the universe as it moves in quiet synchronicity, as accurate, predictable and dependable as the finest time pieces. Ancient civilizations watched the skies and predicted the cyclical motions of the moon and planets as far back as 3,000 years ago, with the annual progression of the sun through the sky known and celebrated by neolithic cultures more than 5,000 years ago.

The talk will explore the history and discoveries associated with eclipses, transits, occultations and conjunctions, with special attention to the April 8 total solar eclipse. The event is the last total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States until 2044.

Mayo has more than 30 years of experience at NASA in planetary research, working on special problems of the outer solar system. He served for 11 years on the Voyager IRIS and Cassini CIRS infrared science teams.

For more than 20 years, Mayo has developed and implemented NASA space science education programs on both regional and national levels. He serves as chief scientist at GAMA-1 Technologies and is deputy program manager for NASA’s SolarSTEAM Heliophysics outreach program. Additionally, he is featured weekly on “Space Oddities,” a show that streams on YouTube and Facebook Tuesdays at 2 p.m. Central Time.

The Journey to the Eclipse series has brought together experts in astronomy, solar eclipses and other sun-related topics for students, faculty and staff of SIU, as well as members of the Southern Illinois community. 

The talks also have streamed on Zoom. For more information and links go to