SciFri Science Club Wants YOU…To Spread The Word About The Solar Eclipse

3:57 minutes

Credit: Ariel Zych

The SciFri Science Club is back! This time, your challenge is to get the word out about this summer’s total solar eclipse. We want your creative ideas for letting everyone know what’s happening, how to view it, and why it’s not to be missed. The challenge is open-ended—you can tell others about the eclipse in any medium, from a song to a hand-drawn illustration. Ariel Zych, Science Friday’s education director and Science Club founding member, tells Ira more.

Check out the full details here.

[Just three weeks remain before the Great American Eclipse. Are you ready?]

What You Need To Know About The Great American Eclipse

When is the Great American Eclipse?

August 21, 2017.
The eclipse will travel from west to east, first “coming ashore” in Oregon at around 9:05 am Pacific Time (12:05 pm Eastern).
It will leave South Carolina at around 2:49 pm ET (11:49 am PT).
The eclipse completes its path across the United States in just over 94 minutes.

Why is it special?

It will be the first total eclipse of the sun visible to much of the continental U.S. in over 40 years!

Where are the best places to see the Great American Eclipse?

You’ll be able to see partial solar eclipses throughout most of the United States!
Within the “path of totality” the sun will be completely hidden from view and the sky will appear dark. The path of totality passes through several major cities:
Salem, OR; Idaho Falls, ID; Lincoln, NE; Kansas City, MO; St. Louis, MO; Nashville, TN; Columbia, SC; and Charleston, SC.

But I’ll be able to see the eclipse from other places too, right?

That’s right! Every part of the United States will be able to observe at least a partial solar eclipse.

Have fun and don’t look directly at the sun without protection! Use certified eclipse glasses, solar filters, or use a pinhole viewer to observe the eclipse.



Segment Guests

Ariel Zych

Ariel Zych is Science Friday’s director of audience. She is a former teacher and scientist who spends her free time making food, watching arthropods, and being outside.

Segment Transcript

IRA FLATOW: Let me bring on another guest, one of the founding members of the Science Friday Science Club, because the club’s back with this month’s challenge, and that is to explain the eclipse– Ariel Zych, Science Friday’s education director.


IRA FLATOW: Welcome back. Tell us about–

ARIEL ZYCH: Thanks for having me.

IRA FLATOW: –this project.

ARIEL ZYCH: Yeah, so we’re really excited about getting people excited about the eclipse. And as you probably know, the best way to get the word out about something is to tell other people about it yourself. Person-to-person communication is a really important way to communicate science. So if you know about the solar eclipse that’s happening, if you have information about the solar eclipse, we want you to help us get the word out.

And you can do that any way. You can make cool gifs. You can make memes. You can send photos to your loved ones of postcards of where you’re going.

You can draw maps. You can make signs. You can do a dance. You can write a song. Any way that you can help us get the word out about the eclipse, we want to hear it.

IRA FLATOW: And what– do they then get back to us with it?

ARIEL ZYCH: They do. At sciencefriday.com/scienceclub, there’s a form where you can submit your awesome announcement about the eclipse. There’s also a great eclipse hashtag, #eclipse2017, which everyone’s using. Share it there. Share it with the hashtag, #scifrisciclub. As we get really amazing and compelling announcements for the eclipse, we are going to share them out, because we’ve only got a few weeks.

IRA FLATOW: You bet. This is Science Friday from PRI, Public Radio International. I’m Ira Flatow, talking with Ariel Zych and Dr. Angela Speck, about sharing the information. And this is a great way to crowdsource stuff, on this event.

ARIEL ZYCH: It totally is. So like, all of the great things that Dr. Speck was just talking about that people might not know about, right? Like, what are Baily’s beads? Why should I go stand under a tree, if I’m not even in the path of totality? Like, what am I going to see that’s going to be so special? Those are the types of important communication challenges that we face in the next– what, 18 days? Is that where we’re at, Dr. Speck?

ANGELA SPECK: 17 days.

ARIEL ZYCH: Oh my goodness. So time is ticking. If you know about the eclipse, tell other people about the eclipse, because you’re probably going to do it in a really interesting and cool way, that we wouldn’t think about.

IRA FLATOW: It would be great to be able to collect everybody’s experience, about what they actually saw or heard, right?

ARIEL ZYCH: Absolutely.

IRA FLATOW: Because we have anecdotal stuff, but–

ARIEL ZYCH: Absolutely. So as this eclipse is happening, certainly, check out NASA– sorry, eclipse2017.nasa.gov, for ways that you can collect data during the eclipse– if you want to collect audio for the Eclipse Soundscapes Project, if you want to collect observations of wildlife animals, wildlife behaviors, for Cal Academy of Sciences Citizen Science Project, go for it. But in the time leading up to the eclipse, one of the most important things that you can do, as a lover of science, is to tell other people about it happening.

IRA FLATOW: Dr. Speck, do you agree?

ANGELA SPECK: Oh, absolutely. It’s all I do, right now.

IRA FLATOW: And as you say, there may be late adopters here, and they’re going to flood the place.

ARIEL ZYCH: Completely, and there’s a lot of other things to think about, too. Like, what about people who maybe don’t speak the English language, and aren’t reading the newspaper, because they can’t, right? If you speak another language, take this chance to make another, like, polylinguistic invitation to see the eclipse.

I was really impressed and delighted to find that a group of scientists have been putting together a visually-impaired-accessible app to view the eclipse. So it’s also with the Eclipse Soundscapes Project. It’ll be available on Monday. So that even if you can’t see, you can experience the eclipse in real time, right? So these are all great examples of ways that you can kind of apply yourself to helping the entire nation share in this incredible science experience.

IRA FLATOW: And if you want more information, you go to our website, at sciencefriday.com/scienceclub. We have a compendium of all the info you want about the eclipse. That’s sciencefriday.com/eclipse. Let me thank my guest, Ariel Zych, Science Friday’s education director.

ARIEL ZYCH: Thanks for having me.

IRA FLATOW: Very psyched for this. And Dr. Angela Speck, professor and director of astronomy at the University of Missouri in Columbia. She’s also co-chair of the American Astronomical Society Solar Eclipse Task Force. Good luck to you. Happy viewing, Dr. Speck.

ANGELA SPECK: Thank you.

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Meet the Producer

About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata was Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.