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NASA’s Scientists and Volunteers Tackle the October 14 Solar Eclipse

In this image captured during the October 14 annular solar eclipse we can see that the disk of the Sun was almost totally blocked by the smaller dark Moon. Between the horns of the crescent is a Baily’s Bead, a spot of sunlight peeking through a valley on the Moon’s apparent edge.
Credits:
Clinton Lewis, West Kentucky University

Did you see October 14th’s solar eclipse? Most of the time we can easily forget that we are on a planet spinning and orbiting in space with other celestial bodies. Watching the Moon move across the face of the Sun reminds us of our place in the solar system. 

Several NASA science teams and many NASA volunteers used the October 14 eclipse to collect data and test observation protocols, software, hardware, and logistics. They met enthusiastic crowds of people taking in the spectacle and making unique observations. The October eclipse was an “annular” eclipse, meaning that some sunlight always leaked around the edges of the moon. The next solar eclipse, on April 8, 2024, will be a total eclipse. Total eclipses are rare scientific opportunities, so NASA teams used the October eclipse to practice and prepare for the upcoming April eclipse.

In New Mexico, the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta rolled right into an Annular Eclipse event! An estimated 100,000 people took in the view of the annular eclipse of the Sun from Albuquerque, which was directly on the path where the eclipse reached its maximum – the path of annularity.

The crowd gathered for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and annular eclipse.
Credit: Heather Fischer
The 3-D NASA logo sits outside an exhibit tent at the Albuquerque Balloon fiesta and subsequent eclipse viewing event.
Credit: Heather Fischer

Elsewhere in New Mexico, the Eclipse Soundscapes team gathered in the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary in Sante Fe. The project team deployed eight AudioMoth recording devices the day before the eclipse and retrieved them the day after the eclipse to support research on whether or not eclipses affect life – and sounds – on Earth.  

They also recruited staff and visitors to the nearby Valles Caldera National Preserve to participate in Eclipse Soundscapes as Observers. Many folks used the prompting worksheets – and eclipse glasses – provided by Eclipse Soundscapes to record and report their multisensory experience of the eclipse. 

Eclipse Soundscapes Team members Dr. Henry “Trae” Winter and MaryKay Severino, getting ready to deploy an AudioMoth device at the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary in Sante Fe, NM
Credit: MaryKay Severino
Valles Caldera Park visitors used the Eclipse Soundscapes worksheet and eclipse glasses distributed by Park Rangers to learn more about the Eclipse Soundscapes project, take notes on what nature changes they heard, saw, or felt during the annular eclipse, and then use a QR code to submit their observations to the project. 
Credit: MaryKay Severino
The SunSketcher team gathered in Odessa, TX, together with other eclipse chasers,  to test their new cell phone app. This app will allow volunteers to help measure the size and shape of the Sun during April’s total eclipse.
Credit: Clinton Lewis, West Kentucky University
In this image captured during the October 14 annular solar eclipse we can see that the disk of the Sun was almost totally blocked by the smaller dark Moon. Between the horns of the crescent is a Baily’s Bead, a spot of sunlight peeking through a valley on the Moon’s apparent edge.
Credit: Clinton Lewis, West Kentucky University

The Dynamic Eclipse Broadcasting Initiative was also on the move. Project leader Bob Baer, student Nathan Culli, and collaborator Mike Kentrianakis gathered in Midland, TX, for a good view of the annular eclipse. They tested their set-up and managed to successfully broadcast their telescope view from sunny Texas back to their home institution of Southern Illinois University in cloudy Carbondale. 

The DEB Initiative set up for testing pre-eclipse.
Credit: Bob Baer and Mike Kentrianakis
Members of the DEB Initiative under their reflective tent in Midland, TX, ready to broadcast their telescope view of the eclipse back to the stadium at their home institution of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
Credit: Bob Baer and Mike Kentrianakis.
Members of the Salt Lake Astronomical Society, NASA volunteers and others gather in anticipation of the October 14, 2023 annular eclipse.
Credit: NASA volunteer Danny Roylance

All in all, the day was a great success! On to April 8, 2024 and the total eclipse!

More information: 

Curious about the other eclipse science projects that you can join? Check out this website https://science.nasa.gov/heliophysics/programs/citizen-science/

and this cool video: https://twitter.com/i/status/1713910355842257261 

Want to know more and keep up to date on all the Heliophysics Big Year events? Follow @NASASun on X. 

Want another chance to see the October 14 annular eclipse? Check out the recording of NASA’s live stream of the eclipse at https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1zqKVqymlNPxB

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Websites:

https://debinitiative.org/

https://eclipsesoundscapes.org/

https://sunsketcher.org/

NASA’s Citizen Science Program:
Learn about NASA citizen science projects
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