The upcoming solar eclipse is a pretty big deal for science.
The moon's shadow will soon completely block the sun over parts of Southeast Asia for a few brief minutes, giving sky watchers a rare and beautiful sight, and astronomers an uncommon chance to study some important features of the sun.
Solar eclipses occur in one form or another at least twice a year (they can occur as many as five times, though that is incredibly rare). But some eclipses are more useful to scientists than others, and many of them are difficult to observe. The one scheduled to be visible over parts of Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific on Tuesday night, Eastern time, (Wednesday morning, by clocks in Indonesia) will be a special kind of eclipse over a populated area — a somewhat rare combination, according to a NASA scientist who spoke with CNBC.