Do you remember where you were on August 21, 2017? Chances are you were one of the 215 million American adults who viewed the solar eclipse directly or electronically! A solar eclipse is when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth.
There are TWO upcoming solar eclipses: one on October 14, 2023 and a total solar eclipse on April 8th, 2024. An estimated 31 million people living inside the path of totality will experience an average of 3-4 minutes when the Sun is completely blocked by the Moon.
Events are being planned across the country to help people prepare for the eclipses. On July 22, I represented SciStarter at one such event: the Missouri Solar Eclipse Expo at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
My role was to introduce people to ways they can share observations before, during and after the eclipses to help build knowledge about what happens when the sun goes dark. More on that in a bit.
Scientists, artists, teachers, photographers, students, and even superheroes and villains (in costume, of course) came together to learn about or present information about eclipses, including:
- Hands-on activities for children that combined tactile resources with argumentative reality
- Free Solar Eclipse Glasses with resources on how to safely view the solar eclipse
- Simulations of what the eclipse will look like
- Eclipse Art
- Citizen Science Opportunities
- Nature groups discussing how the eclipse can affect wildlife
- Popup Observatory
- Chance to try out a solar telescope
Attendees described their eclipse experiences and enthusiasm: “It is life changing. I get to see my 10th eclipse in April,” explained one attendee. “I get to see my 4th eclipse,” yelled someone from behind me. “I am going down to Texas to see my 15th eclipse,” stated a soft-spoken lady from behind an exhibit table. “I can’t wait to see an eclipse,” shouted a little boy holding his first pair of eclipse glasses.
One artist described how she uses art to inspire curiosity in astronomy. A tour guide shared information about local sites and attractions that people should visit while they are in town during the eclipse (Missouri is in the viewing path). I was able to chat with a group of students who are plan to send up monitoring equipment in a weather balloon during the eclipse to gather photographs, temperature readings, and video that will be live streamed so those outside of the path could experience the eclipse. One of the tables had representatives from the Dynamic Eclipse Broadcast (DEB) Initiative, a nation-wide citizen science team working to broadcast new and exciting views of the eclipse.
One thing became clear…there’s no shortage of interest in the eclipse! But how do we harness that enthusiasm and leverage it to help advance research? Citizen science of course!
I’m excited to help SciStarter in its effort to curate all the ways we can help share observations before, during and after the eclipse. Let your enthusiasm for the eclipse erupt by participating whether you’re in the viewing path or not!
The first step is to go to SciStarter.org/eclipse to find more information about the eclipses and a list of curated activities, resources, and projects in need of your help.
Below, I’ve highlighted a few to give you a sense of the range of opportunities. All of these projects can be found on SciStarter.org
Dynamic Eclipse Broadcast (DEB) Initiative:
GLOBE Observer: Eclipse:
Eclipse Soundscapes Project:
Interested in hearing from NASA scientists and how you can get involved in their research leading up to, during and after the eclipses? Go to SciStarter.org/NASA-live to find project descriptions, video interviews, and a list of upcoming online events.
Trevor Bartone is a content and program coordinator for SciStarter. He has worked to bring citizen science to his local community over the last five years, and he plans to further develop programs and resources for others looking to do the same.