August 3, 2017

Help NASA collect 2017 Solar Eclipse data

Posted by Laura Guertin

The excitement continues to build more and more as we get closer to what is being referred to as “Eclipse 2017.” The NASA Eclipse 101 website states that “the last time most Americans experienced a total solar eclipse was 1991. In 2017, an estimated 500 million people will be able to observe the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse, in partial or total form: 391 million in the U.S., 35 million in Canada, and 119 million in Mexico (plus Central America and parts of South America and northwestern Europe).”

As all of North America will experience at least a partial eclipse, NASA is hoping that people will collect and share data before, during, and after the eclipse, even if the sky is clear, cloudy or rainy.

First, before starting down the path of data collection, please make sure your eclipse glasses are the right ones! NASA has issued a statement and safety warning about glasses being marketed for the eclipse that will not protect your eyes. The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has published a list of Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers. Safety tips for viewing have also been published by Science Friday.

Resources for the 2017 Solar Eclipse

There are numerous websites out there with information relating to Eclipse 2017. If your students are back on campus, this is an excellent opportunity to bring in some information literacy instruction. Help students evaluate the range of sources throughout the internet, ensuring students can separate the scientifically accurate ones from the websites that predict “doom and gloom” during the event. Our campus library has even prepared a LibGuide to share eclipse information.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017 Path USA map. Click on image for this and additional eclipse downloads.

You can’t go wrong with NASA’s main site for 2017 Solar Eclipse: This site is one-stop shopping for not only scientific information but for educational materials, an event listing, activities, multimedia resources, and more.

NASA has complied a list of citizen science programs relating to the eclipse, perfect for scientists and non-scientists alike to participate with and contribute to:

The eclipse interactive map will help you pinpoint the stages of the eclipse for your location with the time and percentage of maximum coverage:

Again, please review NASA Recommends Safety Tips to View the August Solar Eclipse:


The GLOBE Observer Eclipse App

For non-astronomers that may only have access to a thermometer, NASA is extremely interested in your observations of air temperature and cloud cover to see how much cooler the Earth gets because of the eclipse. With an app you can download on your cell phone, the process of collecting and submitting data to NASA’s database couldn’t be simpler. See the full article on The GLOBE Program website and view the video below to learn more.

GLOBE Observer app

Once you download the free GLOBE Observer app and register, the app will guide you to record your observations. The information is then placed by the app onto an interactive map that people can view to see how individual contributions have added to the collective project. What a great way to not only educate others about the eclipse but also introduce them to citizen science! This activity is perfect for classrooms of all ages, Scout troops, teacher workshops… the list goes on.

August 21st is the first day of classes at my institution – and, it will be the first day that my entering freshmen pursuing an Earth science degree will be able to engage with undergraduate research! We’ll be collecting more information for longer periods of time beyond what NASA is looking for. Not only will students submit data through the GLOBE Observer Eclipse app, but this will be an excellent data set for me to use with the students in my classes this fall – collected by students, in their local environment.


AGU wants to hear from you!

AGU wants to know your plans for the August 21st total solar eclipse. Let them know where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing, and they will be in touch about sharing your experience with the AGU community. Please complete this Google Survey with your information. Happy eclipse hunting!