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Help Make History: 5 Eclipse Projects for Citizen Scientists

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August 11, 2017 Anna Kusmer KQED  read full article here

On 21 August 2017, a total solar eclipse will cause the shadow of the moon to traverse the United States from Oregon to South Carolina in just over 90 minutes. 

Life Responds, from Cal Academy- Changes in Animal Behavior:

On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will cross the continental United States, from coast to coast. The Academy invites citizen scientists like you to take advantage of this…opportunity to record eclipse-related animal behavior with the iNaturalist app.  See more here for before the eclipse to downland and practice making observations, and for the day of the eclipse. …Choose an animal that you suspect might change its behavior, such as spiders, ants and birds — even captive animals such as chickens, dogs or cats. Or, maybe pick a flower that normally closes at night, such as the morning glory or the California poppy….

GLOBE Observer- Weather changes:

NASA’s GLOBE Observer program invites people to spend the day of the eclipse observing what happens to the weather when the sun is blocked out for a period of time. The temperature may drop. Clouds may change. The wind may shift.

To participate in this project, download the GLOBE Observer app. In the weeks before the eclipse, take a couple minutes to learn how to read a cheap thermometer and how to characterize cloud types (the app can help with that). On the day of the eclipse, pay close attention to the sky and record what you observe every 10 minutes for two hours before and after the eclipse. You observations will help scientists understanding more about how the sun’s rays impact weather….

Eclipse Soundscapes- changes in sounds:

…The solar eclipse doesn’t impact only the visual environment, it also affects the soundscape. This citizen science event is part scientific inquiry and part artistic creation, and offers blind and visually impaired people a way to experience the eclipse..

…Nocturnal animals such as crickets will emerge and start to sing, and diurnal animals such as birds will quiet and nest. Loud cities may temporarily fall silent as everyone looks toward the sky — people may gasp, or laugh. By recording the environment before, during and after the August 21 eclipse, you can capture these changes in the sound environment.

…The Eclipse Soundscapes phone app will also provide a multi-sensory show on the day of the eclipse. Click here to learn more and get involved.

Eclipse Megamovie- Images:

Taking a good picture of the eclipse is hard to do and potentially dangerous for your eyes and camera. Many experts discourage people from trying.  However, if you’ve got a fancy camera and you’re passionate about snapping photos of this celestial phenomenon, then … join the Megamovie club….Though too late for the Megamovie itself, anyone can upload their images of totality to the project’s website through Labor Day. They’ll be included in a vast image archive for future research. Click here to learn more and get involved.

HamSci Project- Changes in radiowaves:

Have you ever wondered why you can hear some AM radio stations at night that you can’t hear during the day? It has to do with the ionosphere, an electrified layer of the earth’s atmosphere 50 miles over our heads, which absorbs radio waves and sometimes refracts them back to earth….Although the ionospheric effects of solar eclipses have been studied for over 50 years, many unanswered questions remain.

…To partake in the HamSci project, take a couple minutes in the weeks before the eclipse to find an AM radio station you can only hear at night. Then, during the eclipse, tune into that same channel and see if you can hear a signal as the sun dims. Write down what you heard and where you heard it and email your observation to the project organizer.  Click here or here to learn more and get involved.

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