What's Up - August 2017
The total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017, will trace a narrow path across the nation, though most of the U.S. will see a partial eclipse.
August 21st's total solar eclipse traces a narrow path across the nation, though most of the U.S. will see a partial eclipse.
Hello and welcome. I'm Jane Houston Jones from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Not everyone can travel to the narrow path of totality, so here are some things to look for-no matter whether you see totality or a partial eclipse.
Before eclipse day, pack your eclipse toolkit with a notebook, pen or pencil, a clock, a stopwatch, the front page of a newspaper, a thermometer, and a stick with a piece of crepe paper tied to it. And bring an assistant to help conduct some science observations.
Practice using a citizen science phone app to help you study clouds, air and surface temperatures during the eclipse. A good one is the GLOBE app.
Go to the location where you'll view the eclipse and check for trees and buildings that may obstruct your view.
Totality lasts less than 3 minutes, so you many want to focus on doing only one science observation. Or just really experience the eclipse! Don't waste this one-in-a-lifetime opportunity by watching it on your phone's screen.
Plan to have your safe solar-viewing glasses within immediate reach-in your pocket or around your neck--for quick eye protection before and after totality.
Just before totality, if you have a good view of the horizon, look west for the approaching shadow. After totality, look east low on the horizon for the departing shadow. If it's cloudy try to see the shadow by looking up at the bottoms of the clouds.
During totality, look for stars. Can you see Regulus in the solar corona? The stars of Orion? How early and how late is Venus visible? Can you see any other planets?
Before and after totality you may see moving waves of light and shadow, like the patterns you see on the bottom of a swimming pool.
How dark does it get at totality? As it gets darker, look at the newspaper you brought and see what's the smallest print you can read.
How much does the temperature drop during totality?
Does the wind start, stop, or change direction?
Watch and listen for changes in animal and bird behavior.
During the partial phases, use your hands as a pinhole projector. You'll be able to see the crescent shape of the sun projected through the spaces created by your fingers. You can also make a paper pinhole projector. In fact, any item with one or more holes in it, like a kitchen colander, a loosely woven straw hat, even leaves on trees will project the crescent shapes.
That's all for this month. I'm Jane Houston Jones.