Citizen-Scientists Provide Data for Eclipse Projects

The total solar eclipse that will take place in the United States on Monday, August 21st, will not only be a fascinating astronomical spectacle that millions of people will watch. It is also going to be an opportunity for citizen-scientists across the country to help scientists monitor and observe some of the interesting phenomena that will occur when the moon passes in front of the sun.

Some of these opportunities require special equipment, such as the Citizen CATE project (which stands for Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse Experiment). This effort requires its volunteers to use special telescopes to take photographs of the sun’s corona while the moon is blocking the bright light from the rest of the sun. The photos will then be compiled into a movie.

Even those without special telescopes and cameras will be contributing to scientific study, though. The California Academy of Sciences has a project called Life Responds, which is asking for field reports of animal behavior and plant responses during the eclipse. Researchers on this project are especially interested in what animals will do when it gets dark in the middle of the day. Amateur scientists participating in this project will use an app called iNaturalist to record and transmit their observations.

Another project, called EclipseMob, which is being run jointly by George Mason University and the University of Massachusetts, will be collecting information about radio waves during the eclipse using the help of ordinary citizens. Using smartphones and radio receivers, people helping out with this project will pick up radio waves emitted by EclipseMob and record how the signals change during the eclipse.

NASA, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Astronomical Society are also running projects during the eclipse that offer opportunities for amateur scientists to help collect data. These projects are asking eclipse observers to monitor clouds and record temperature changes during various stages of the eclipse. Of especial interest is data recorded at the moment of totality, when the moon passes in front of the sun, resulting in a moment of darkness for sections of the United States during the day.

This will be the first total solar eclipse to traverse the entire United States in 99 years, so it’s worth watching if at all possible. There won’t be another total eclipse in the U.S. until 2024, and it will only extend from Texas to the Northeastern states. You’ll have to travel to South America or the South Pacific if you want to witness this phenomenon between 2017 and 2024.

Next Article
  • President Jefferson’s Murderous Sheep

    Presidential pets often become as famous as their owners. There have also been a wide range of animals kept as White House pets, from an alligator to a wallaby to everything in between. One presidential pet stands out, though, but not because of its species. This pet is memorable because of its murderous temper. Thomas...

    Read More
  • The Plague That Caused People to Dance Themselves to Death

    On an otherwise unremarkable July day in early 16th century Strasbourg (now in France), a woman known as Frau Troffea ran into the street and began dancing. There was no music being played, and it wasn’t a holiday or day of celebration, yet, for reasons unknown, she felt compelled to dance. She continued her solo...

    Read More
  • The Plastic-Eating Caterpillar That Could Help Save the Planet

    An amateur Spanish beekeeper recently made a discovery that could have a major impact in our planet’s fight against pollution and global warming. While tending to her beehives, she removed some wax worms from them, since they are pests that are parasitic towards bee colonies. To get rid of them, she put them in an...

    Read More
  • This Town Has Been on Fire for More Than 50 Years

    The borough of Centralia is located in Columbia County, Pennsylvania. In the late 1800s it was a thriving anthracite coal mining town with a population of close to 3,000, but as of 2013 the population is no more than seven. The diminished population is the result of an underground coal...

    Read More
  • The World’s Most Glamorous Train

    The Orient Express has been noted as being the world’s most glamorous train, but how did it get that title?  Well, the story of The Orient Express takes off in the 1860’s when the concept of globetrotting tourism was still fairly new.  For years, the ultra-rich had been the only people that could afford to...

    Read More
  • The Earliest Evidence of Wine Making

    This new find definitely deserves a grand toast. Scientists have just recently discovered what is now to be considered the oldest known winemaking site on record. Archaeologists have just recently discovered ceramic jars which have shown evidence of winemaking during an excavation of two Neolithic sites called Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora. These sites are...

    Read More
  • Remarkable Future Mars Robot

    Reported to take off in only three years, making it the year 2020, a robot that is larger than an SUV will be blasting off from planet Earth to Mars.  The plan is to have this new robot mildly parachute down onto the red planet’s surface.  It will be guided at the end of its...

    Read More
  • Tiny Grasshopper Discovered in Van Gogh Painting

    Who doesn’t love a good mystery from over one-hundred years ago?  In recent mystery news, there was a tiny grasshopper discovered in one of the paintings of Van Gogh, being hidden from one-hundred and twenty-eight years ago.  Wonder what it all means and who discovered this tiny grasshopper?  We may never know the true meaning...

    Read More