Solar Eclipse: Soundscapes
3 mins read

Solar Eclipse: Soundscapes

Citizen Science is a collaboration between scientists and people who are curious or concerned about the world around them and are motivated to make a difference. Anyone can participate, and the data collected by citizen scientists help scientists come to real conclusions. For scientists who study the sun, a solar eclipse is a rare opportunity to do research. The Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024, is a perfect opportunity to assist with sun research through citizen science.  

One citizen science opportunity is Soundscapes, which is funded by NASA Science Aviation and studies how eclipses affect life on Earth. On August 31, 1932, a study was conducted to see how solar eclipses affected insect and animal behaviors. This study was repeated with modern technology by the National Park Service during the 2017 Solar Eclipse. Soundscapes is a continuation of this study that began in 1932. For the 2024 Solar Eclipse, NASA is asking the community to gather multi-sensory observations.  

Soundscape ecology is an emerging field that studies the sound properties of ecosystems to better understand them. An eclipse is the perfect opportunity to study how animals react to sudden, dramatic change in natural stimuli.  

Participating in Soundscapes during the eclipse is easy! Plano is in the path of totality, so we will be able to observe how the sounds around us change as the eclipse progresses. To be a Soundscape Observer, you will need to: 

  • Sign up to be an official Eclipse Soundscapes Observer on the Eclipse Soundscapes website and complete the free, thirty-minute training 
  • Observe for at least ten minutes before the eclipse maximum (which occurs at 1:43), during the eclipse maximum, and at least 10 minutes after the eclipse maximum 
  • Take notes! Use the Soundscape Field Notes Sheet to record your observations 
  • Upload your observations to the Soundscapes website between April 8 and April 22 

The science doesn’t end once the eclipse is over! Soundscapes will still need citizen scientists to serve as data analysis to help uncover the patterns and meaning in the data that is submitted. Information about this opportunity will be available on their website after the eclipse.  

The Eclipse Soundscape App, which is available for free in your app store, makes the eclipse accessible to people who are blind or low vision. It features: 

  • Audio Descriptions: Eclipse Soundscapes worked with the National Center for the Blind at GBH to create audio descriptions for pictures that highlight key moment of a solar eclipse 
  • Rumble Map: this feature allows users to experience images of an eclipse using touch and sound. When users touch areas of the image that have a higher concentration of light, the phone’s speakers vibrate and play a high-pitched sound. When darker areas of the image are touched, there is less vibration, and the sound is lower-pitched.  

Celebrate the eclipse at the library! All five Plano locations will have eclipse programming from 1 pm to 2 pm the day of the eclipse. Interested in participating in the Eclipse Soundscapes Citizen Science project? Swing by the citizen science table to pick up a Field Notes sheet and an ‘I’m a Citizen Scientist’ sticker. 

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