Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Short Eclipse Mega-movie Already Available

A first 2.5-minute version of the Google Eclipse Megamovie is now out and can be viewed at:
This is actually version 2, which shows a map at the bottom right indicating where along the path of the total eclipse in the U.S. each image comes from. The team soon expects to have a much longer version with many more pictures taken during the 1 hour 37 minutes that the eclipse was over the continental U.S. stitched together.
So far over 6,000 images from the serious photographer volunteers, over 11,000 images via the online image upload from the public, and over 45,000 images via the App the team developed have been received, according to a message I got minutes ago from project leader Laura Peticolas of the University of California, Berkeley's Space Sciences Lab. What a nice example of citizen science!
I hope you all had good eclipse viewing Monday. I was in central Oregon with family and friends, and got a spectacular view of the total eclipse, with beautiful red prominences (great fountains of hot material being driven outwards from the surface of the Sun) visible through binoculars. The attached image above, from one member of our group, Dr. Cary Sneider, gives you a little taste of what we saw.
The other attached image, below, by Anna Rich, shows a car on the highway, on its way home from Oregon, expressing a sentiment many felt.
For anyone who missed the lead-up to the eclipse, a fun way to get caught up might be my conversation with veteran newscaster Gil Gross, at:
This eclipse special might be the first of a series of podcasts we will do on astronomical news and ideas, starting later in the fall. Stay tuned for more on what the producer's are calling "Fraknoi's Universe."

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Eclipse of the Sun Coming in 2 Weeks! And Another in 7 Years!

The path from top left to bottom right is the Aug. 21, 2017 eclipse
The path from bottom left to top right is the Apr. 8, 2014 eclipse

In just two weeks, on August 21, all of North America will experience an eclipse of the Sun. The eclipse will be total on a narrow path going across the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina. The rest of the continents will see a partial eclipse, with a big bite taken out of the Sun by the disk of the Moon.
If you don't get to see this one, there will be another U.S. total eclipse in only seven years (on April 8, 2024.) If you missed out getting a hotel room or a campground in the zone of totality for August's eclipse, you have no excuse now for 2024! (See the attached map; click on it to see it bigger.)
I've had the opportunity to do quite a bit of media outreach for the eclipse; you can:
1. hear me as part of the eclipse special on the "Big Picture Science" radio show:…/eclipsing-all-other-shows
2. see me speaking on the eclipse at the SkeptiCAL convention sponsored by the Bay Area Skeptics:
3. read my comments as part of legendary science journalist David Perlman's last science article (David, who covered science news at the San Francisco Chronicle, is retiring at the age of 99! May we all have a career as long and respected as his.):…/Total-solar-eclipse-to-create-…
This week many media and people are waking up to the coming of the eclipse at last. Our free 8-page booklet all about it and how to view it safely can be downloaded from the page: Do read through it to get hints about how best to see and explain this rare sky phenomenon.
A free app, called TOTALITY, can be downloaded from both the Apple and Android app stores, and it will tell you exactly when and how the eclipse will be visible in your location.
If you haven't yet gotten safe eclipse-viewing glasses, your first stop should be your local public library. (Thanks to the Moore Foundation and Google, our project to distribute 2.1 million eclipse glasses has gotten glasses to almost 7,000 public libraries nationwide.)
If your library doesn't have any, here is a page to tell you all the reliable sources of eclipse glasses that are certified to meet the standards for protecting your eyes set by eye-doctors:
And for kids, please forgive me if I mention our children's book, "When the Sun Goes Dark," now in its fourth printing. Copies have temporarily run out in some places, but the publisher has it at:
Here is wishing you clear skies for August 21.

Eclipse stamp issued by the US Postal Service
changes the picture you see when you touch it