Unique Science Engagement Opportunities for the All-American 2017 Eclipse

Friday, February 17, 2017: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Room 304 (Hynes Convention Center)
Tyler Nordgren, University of Redlands, Redlands, CA
On August 21, 2017, 12.2 million people along a band crossing the full width of the United States will see a total solar eclipse from their home locations (nearly four times that many live within a two hour’s drive). Not since 1979 has any totality been visible anywhere in the continental U.S. However, this event's opportunity for citizen science and education depends critically on successfully communicating the location, timing, safety, rarity, and beauty of this event. Scientists and educators across the country have prepared opportunities to engage the public and students during this event. Such projects include the Citizen Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse (CATE) project run by the National Solar Observatory. They are providing 60 identical telescopes and digital cameras to universities, schools, astronomy clubs and corporations along the path of the eclipse and training them to produce images of the sun’s corona during the few moments of local totality. The images from all 60 cameras will then be spliced together to produce the first uninterrupted 90-minute video of the Sun’s atmosphere recording its activity from the moment totality begins on the coast of Oregon and concludes off the shore of South Carolina an hour and a half later (https://sites.google.com/site/citizencateexperiment/home/). The Eclipse Mega Movie Project, supported by NASA and a number of colleges, observatories, and corporations, seeks to have volunteers from the general public submit their photographs of totality to create a similar crowd-sourced movie of the entire 90-minute duration of the eclipse (https://eclipsemega.movie/). Other projects involve the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project to help school groups build camera and video payloads for high altitude balloons launched within the path of totality (http://eclipse.montana.edu/) as well as more general projects to have the public measure the distance to the Moon using trigonometric parallax, the speed of its shadow and other phenomena, links to all of which can be found on NASA’s eclipse website (https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov).