Covering Solar Eclipse for The Daily Astorian

I started planning for the solar eclipse 6 months ago. That involved getting up at 4am to hit Oregon’s website and reserving a campsite. Three months earlier I had received an email from Oregon’s State Park stating that they were opening up reservations on the path of totality early. In the time it took to drive to the office and start my browser, every site from one end of the state to the other was booked. Best I could do was book a site outside of Astoria, but as The Daily Astorian hired me to cover the eclipse I guess it turned out for the best.

Eclipse

Let did I release just what I was getting myself into. As the countdown continues Oregon is reporting gridlock traffic, gas shortages, and cellular crashes. And oh yea, grocery stores are predicted to run out of food.

“Like a hungry small boy sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner, an astronomer at a total eclipse of the sun is there to get all he can while he has the chance. The boy is determined to stuff himself with as much turkey as possible while it lasts, and the astronomer is eager to gather in all the knowledge of the sun that he can during the brief few minutes of favorable conditions created by the eclipse.”—S.A. Mitchell, Scientific Leader of the NGS/US Navy Eclipse Expedition

No one needs me to rehash the mechanics of a solar eclipse. If you’re reading this then you’ve already been bombarded by plenty of information.

But here’s something you probably didn’t know. Think the situation in Oregon is crazy. What if I told you that Britain and the US exchanged gunfire over the 1937 eclipse?

Both nations sent scientific expedition to tiny Canton Island in the South Pacific. When a dispute broke out over the best anchorage spot, the british fired a shot across the bow of the American. Luckily cooler heads back home diffused the situation before things escalated.

Still, there was a rivalry as both teams attempted to measure the brightness of the sun’s corona. This effort for the America tema involved hauling 22,000 lbs of gear from Washington DC to Honolulu and then 1,900 miles further into the pacific.

I’ll be taking part in an event larger scientific mission stretching across the continent and involving thousands of team members. My portion of the gear includes my smartphone and thermometer.

NASA

NASA invites eclipse viewers around the country to participate in a nationwide science experiment by collecting cloud and air temperature data and reporting it via their phones.

The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment or GLOBE, Program is a NASA-supported research and education program that encourages students and citizen scientists to collect and analyze environmental observations. GLOBE Observer is a free, easy-to-use app that guides citizen scientists through data collection.

All of North America will experience at least a partial eclipse.

“No matter where you are in North America, whether it’s cloudy, clear or rainy, NASA wants as many people as possible to help with this citizen science project,” said Kristen Weaver, deputy coordinator for the project. “We want to inspire a million eclipse viewers to become eclipse scientists.”

In order to participate, first, download the GLOBE Observer app and register to become a citizen scientist. The app will instruct you on how to make the observations. Second, you will need to obtain a thermometer to measure air temperature.

Observations will be recorded on an interactive map.

To join in the fun, download the GLOBE Observer app. After you login, the app explains how to make eclipse observations.

The Daily Astorian

As I mentioned early, I’ve been hired by The Daily Astorian to livestream the event for the website. I’ve been testing a number of options and will be working with their technicians to this weekend to iron out the last few bugs. If all goes well, and the weather cooperates you can see my livestream over at  www.dailyastorian.com.

The best way to stay on top of develops is to watch my twitter account and instagram account.

Fingers crossed.

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