The 2017 great American eclipse will be the science highlight of the decade. There are schools, colleges, universities and astronomy forums gearing up to record this event. This eclipse will provide an excellent opportunity for professional astronomers and amateur stargazers to observe something rare and astounding. There are quite a few ways you can kindle the spirit of astronomy this summer during the great American solar Eclipse.
- Track the moon’s shadow
This will be easier if you are on the path of totality. It is perfect for elementary school kids. If your child can add this to his science project, they can easily bag a couple of extra credits. All you will need is a smartphone and a known terrain. When you see the shadow approach you, you can start the watch when it crosses a known landmark. Stop the watch when it is directly above you. Divide the distance by the time. You can estimate how fast the moon’s shadow moves across the earth’s surface by this simple method.
- Measure light and temperature changes
You can monitor the light change and temperature drop in your area by using your smartphone and a sensitive thermometer. Use the light meter app on your phone to measure the ambient light before, during and after the great American solar eclipse. Also, measure the temperature changes during the varying light intensities. Taking some readings according to different locations will make your data accurate. This way you can measure the light and temperature relationships in the atmosphere.
- Studying general relativity
When the sun hides behind the moon, some planets and stars will become visible. This will give you the chance to recreate the famous experiment that established the theory of general relativity in 1919. You can take images of the sun and the stars around it during the eclipse. Due to the sun’s gravity, light traveling from stars close enough to the sun will warp. Stars that are only visible during the great American solar eclipse August 21, 2017, will have their positions altered ever so slightly. Although in 1919, it was a cutting-edge experiment with state of the art equipment. In 2017, you will need your digital camera, smartphone, and telescope.
- Video recording the entire event
The idea is to gather as much eclipse-related data as possible from observers across the USA. The Eclipse Megamovie will garner information from about 1000 observers and collage them together to create a large data source.
Next, the Citizen Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse Experiment is gathering as many videographers as possible to generate information for the astronomy-bodies including NASA. CATE will stitch the submissions to a 90-minute video.
However, for doing any of these, you need to be present on the centerline or the path of totality. You can find out which cities and towns are along the path of totality from our website. We have also included an interactive map to help you find the best viewing points near you for observing totality.
Mandy Bular used to work with NASA for more than a decade. She is an active blogger now and sharing her tips on solar eclipse to help people witness this one in a lifetime event in the proper manner.