The 2017 Solar Eclipse: August 21, 2017
In just a few days, those of us in the United States will be in the right place for the best solar eclipse here in almost 100 years. Scientists everywhere—from astronomers and astrophysicists to meteorologists and biologists—will be observing, recording, testing, and analyzing from every angle (from earth, from satellites, from balloons, and more) to extract as much information as they can from those few minutes. While some will be watching the sun, still others will be watching what happens on earth during the eclipse.
Will it affect the weather and temperature?
Will it make animals behave differently?
You too can become a citizen-scientist during the eclipse!
The more eyes and ears on this short-lived, exciting event the better. I've just downloaded the iNaturlist app, courtesy of the California Academy of Sciences. Here you'll be able to note any observations such as the reaction of animals around you, lights, colors, etc.
Many zoos are asking for volunteers to come in at the time of the eclipse and observe the behavior of their animals.
If you know how to photograph the eclipse safely, the University of California, Berkley, plans to use photos from volunteers to create a production called “Eclipse Megamovie 2017.” If you're fortunate enough to be along the path of the full eclipse, check out their website to learn how to participate.
Watch the Eclipse safely
Make sure you've got the correct eclipse glasses to watch the sun. I waited almost too long to look for them and had to go to several stores yesterday before I finally found some (at a 7-11 store). If you can see anything other than pitch black through them, they may not be sufficient to protect your eyes when you look at the sun.
Here are NASA's tips on watching the eclipse safely: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety. Unless you're completely in the path of the total eclipse, you should leave your glasses on for the entire time. If you're right in the path, you can remove your glasses only for the very brief time the sun is completely covered and everything turns black. Then put your glasses back on.
Ethan Siegel's interesting article for Forbes is called “Five Things You Must Not Do During Totality At The Solar Eclipse.” Interestingly, he suggests NOT trying to photograph the event. He feels it's too short and that you might miss the best part of the experience if you're not just watching it.
Learn, learn, learn—connect with nature
This is an exciting time to learn about a part of our natural world with which most of us aren't familiar. The NASA website's Eclipse 101 has lots of great information, maps, graphs, and charts. Share it with your children and grandchildren. If you can watch the eclipse together, you'll share a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Michael D'Estries, writing for the Mother Nature Network, has an interesting article called “15 not-so-dumb eclipse questions and myths.” I think you'll enjoy it.
If you miss the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, here are some others that (depending on your age) might occur in your lifetime:
- October 14, 2023 — an annular eclipse will be visible from northern California to Florida
- April 8, 2024 — a total eclipse will move from Texas to Maine
- March 30, 2033
- August 23, 2044
- August 12, 2045
- March 30, 2052
Praise to the Maker
I imagine my first total solar eclipse experience will evoke the same reaction I have when I gaze on any of God's magnificent works of Nature. I will feel an expanding of my spirit and breathe the famous words of praise written by Carl Gustav Boberg in Mönsterås, Sweden in 1885:
“How Great Thou Art!”
Do you plan to watch the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017? If so, from where? We'd love to hear your observations in the comments below or on our Facebook page.