As a psychologist, I understand the media play an important role in shaping communication about the total solar eclipse to the wider public. It is a topic that needs coverage from a number of angles to ensure people understand the scale and significance of the event.
Unfortunately, eclipse stories that tend to dominate are more headline grabbing – such as traffic Armageddon, or price gouging. These do nothing to share why people should go out of their way to experience this amazing phenomenon.
For this reason, I am happy to be contacted by the media to do interviews on topics related to the total eclipse experience; eclipse chasing; and eclipse planning.
I can talk from my own personal experience of seeing 12 total solar eclipses; of being an eclipse chaser; of leading eclipse tours; and of community eclipse planning. I can also talk from a research perspective, based upon the hundreds of surveys and interviews I have undertaken, as well as having published three books on the topic.
The eclipse experience is difficult to put into words or neat sound bites. Interviews can take a little while to share the essence of the eclipse experience or the motivations of an eclipse chaser. If you are looking for a quick sound bite, feel free to use something from this website or my books. If you are looking for more depth and detail, then get in touch for an interview.
I really enjoy participating in live broadcasts before every total eclipse, as it really helps to set the scene and convey the excitement of what it is like to be within the path of totality. It is incredibly exciting and thrilling, and I do get rather excitable! Before the total eclipse of 2017, for example, I took part in eight live broadcasts on eclipse day. The clip below with the BBC was recorded live 20 minutes before totality, and I was on location in Grand Teton National Park as the Moon’s shadow was approaching. This was one of my favourite live interviews of the day, and as you can see the interviewer really did pick up on the fab vibe!
For annular eclipses, I often do not travel, but I still take part in live shows to help convey what the experience is like. There is often much more time to go indepth into the eclipse experience. Here are two live broadcasts from annular eclipses recorded with Slooh, from September 1, 2016 and February 26, 2017. Both times I was live from Belfast.
I have undertaken many live radio interviews before and after total eclipses. I actually enjoy building up a picture of what the vibe is like at my location and sharing that excitement. However, there are two caveats to this:
– mobile phone reception is often poor in remote locations, and if phone reception is poor at my viewing location I will not move purely to get a phone signal
– I stop all interviews from 15 minutes prior to totality so I can fully enjoy the experience
– There is no guarantee that I can provide coherent live interviews after totality, as I’m all a bit gah-gah just like everybody else!
I have now taken part in several eclipse-related documentaries, that aim to help share the eclipse experience with a wide audience, with a selection here.
When two Americans venture off to Antarctica to chase an astronomical event that will black out the sun, they uncover madness, obsession and an identity crisis at the heart of the darkness.
Short clip advertising the featured documentary “The Eclipse Chaser” for MetroTV’s 360 Horizon show. The documentary was broadcast in full one week after the total solar eclipse. Credit: MetroTV
Radio & Podcasts
I am a huge fan of doing local radio interviews from within the community in the lead up to every eclipse. I believe this is the best way to engage the community, and it is a way to create buzz and share key information and resources. I did this extensively in 2012 in Australia; in the Faroe Islands in 2015, and also extensively in many states in 2017. I think radio phone in’s are a great way to address the ‘why should I care’ feel many locals have when they are not yet informed of why the total eclipse is something they would also enjoy.
I have also now participated in a quite a few eclipse-related podcasts, which are often longer, giving so much more time to delve into different aspects of the eclipse experience. A selection of these can be heard here, and are all worthy of a listen.
Before every total eclipse, I get overwhelmed with with media requests – as do other eclipse folk who engage in eclipse outreach activities. As we are often asked the same questions repeatedly, we have found media panels are very effective at managing the chaos leading up to eclipse day, helping everyone meet tight deadlines. This is a model I encourage where possible to help ease the burden on those who are trying to engage in eclipse outreach leading up to every eclipse.