Coming Solar Eclipse Offers Opportunities for Citizen Scientists

On Aug. 21, the entire continental United States will experience something rare: a total solar eclipse. The "path of totality"--that is, the maximum phase of the eclipse during which the Moon's disk completely covers the Sun--crosses the country from Oregon to South Carolina, leaving areas of 14 states to experience nigh-like darkness for approximately two minutes in mid-day. The eclipse begin in the United States at 10:15 a.m. PDT off the coast of Oregon and will depart at approximately 2:50 p.m. EDT in South Carolina.

With millions of people already making plans to view the eclipse (safely with eye protection, naturally!) NASA is inviting viewers to participate in a nationwide citizen science experiment, collecting cloud and air temperature data and reporting it via their phones. As NASA explains, "The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment, or GLOBE, Program is a NASA-supported research and education program that encourages students and citizen scientists to collect and analyze environmental observations. GLOBE Observer is a free, easy-to-use app that guides citizen scientists through data collection."

Here's a video that explains more:

If your school will already be in session, this represents an excellent opportunity to get students involved in real-life data collection. To learn more, visit NASA's Eclipse 2017 website.

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