August 15, 2017

Even though central Pennsylvanians won’t witness the full effect of the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, you will be able to participate in the science of it as a citizen astronomer.

“Citizen astronomy allows anyone who wants to be involved, no astronomy background needed, to help analyze or collect data that will later be verified and used by astronomers,” said Massooma Pirbhai, assistant professor in the Department of Physics at Susquehanna University.

Susquehanna’s physics professors will use the NASA-sponsored Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) app. Citizen astronomers can make environmental observations with the app to complement NASA satellite observations, thereby helping scientists studying Earth and the global environment.

“NASA is trying to figure out what happens to the atmosphere and on Earth’s surface when the sun’s light is blocked, even temporarily,” Pirbhai said. “Data collected from this app will contribute to real NASA science.”

Susquehanna’s current, incoming and recently graduated physics students received information on three additional mobile applications they can use when viewing the eclipse:

  • Smithsonian Eclipse 2017 includes an interactive eclipse map to tell you when the eclipse will occur in your location and a virtual view inside an eclipse simulator.
  • Total Solar Eclipse by San Francisco’s Exploratorium features five live streams of the eclipse. Other features include discussions about the eclipse, as well as a live view of it from Wyoming and Oregon.
  • Solar Eclipse 2017 by provides a map of the eclipse, a countdown to when it happens, animations of its path and some general information to help you with your view.