Tag: total eclipse

17 Mar 2022
White Paper 2nd Edn cover

OUT NOW – 2nd Edition of White Paper on Community Eclipse Planning

White Paper 2nd Edn cover
White Paper on Community Eclipse Planning (2nd Edn), is available to download freely from my website.  This version is focused on those planning for TSE 2024, and the annular in 2023.

 

We are now almost two years out from the biggest event in North and Central America for 2024 – the next total solar eclipse. This eclipse will be even bigger than the 2017 eclipse — I know this is very hard to imagine. The path of totality is much wider crossing over higher-population areas, and with FOMO from 2017, it really will be the event of the decade.

This time, over 3,000 communities are located within the path of totality in the US alone. This equates to tens of thousands of people who will be directly involved with eclipse planning over the coming two years.

Planning for something as major as a total eclipse needs to happen across organizations, and with local/state/national coordination. The American Astronomical Society (AAS) Solar Eclipse Task Force is doing a great job at coordinating efforts, and I enjoy being part of this team of highly motivated people who are guiding the way in preparations for 2024.  Our next virtual planning workshop is only a few weeks away and is timed to coincide with the two-year countdown (and you can register here).

Every community within the path of totality will initially struggle to get started with their planning. Usually, they wait for direction from above and then realize over time that only they can figure out the eclipse planning strategy for their own community.

This is exactly where my White Paper on Community Eclipse Planning comes in.

Having been involved in community eclipse planning for a decade, I see this gap time and time again and have made it my mission to support communities to develop their strategic approach to planning for the eclipse. No one will do it for you. **SPOILER ALERT** For maximum benefit, the eclipse should not be seen as a one-off event, but as a focal point for your community development plans.  

The first White Paper on Community Eclipse Planning was released in 2015, with the purpose of helping communities across the path of totality in the US to prepare for the ‘Great American Eclipse’ in 2017.  Since then, I have used the thousands of hours of my free zoom consultations, repeated sessions, in-community visits, post-eclipse sessions with coordinators and Mayors, to effectively capture the key lessons from those coordinating the eclipse planning efforts in their communities. I use an evidence-based approach and do this voluntarily in my own time, so it is a slow process.

And so, after years of work behind the scenes sorting through all this material, the 2nd Edition is now ready for distribution.

This document is more detailed and focused on developing a community-based eclipse strategy for maximum benefit. Like last time, this document is free and can be found at the bottom of this page on my website.  The document is large, so it is best shared via a link to my webpage rather than as an attachment.

This 2nd edition will have multiple versions tailored for each specific eclipse, up to 2030.  An earlier version for the 2023 total eclipse visible from Australia/Timor-Leste was circulated to those involved last year.  The version now available to download from my website is suitable for those planning for the total solar eclipse of 2024 in the US, Mexico and Canada — while also including details of the 2023 annular eclipse.

I am no longer in a position to offer free individual consults to communities. However, I will be offering planning masterclasses for eclipse coordinators, where each month a maximum of six coordinators can come together and we will deep-dive into various topics. I will only be making announcements about these to those communities who complete the form on my website, and the first one will be in May.

Remember – no community volunteers to be within the path of totality;  the Universe chooses YOU!  Use this opportunity wisely.

 

24 Dec 2014

Researching eclipse weather using Citizen Science

One of the concerns about the up-and-coming total solar eclipse is the weather experienced along the path of totality during the month of March.  Existing weather statistics for the Faroe Islands taken from Vagar Airport collected over the past 20 years show that there is a high occurrence of cloud in March, and a high occurrence of precipitation.

However, there are two main problems with using this historical data for eclipse planning.  Firstly, the average weather statistics at one location in the Faroe Islands tell us nothing about the circumstances at locations across the islands.  And secondly, the average monthly weather statistics tell us little about weather at ‘eclipse time’ – from 8.40-10.40am.

Dr Geoff Sims and Dr Kate Russo in the Faroe Islands, March 2013
Dr Geoff Sims and Dr Kate Russo in the Faroe Islands, March 2014

For these reasons, I participated in a Citizen Science weather project in March 2014, exactly one year before the eclipse. Dr Geoff Sims – Australian Astrophysicist, Eclipse Photographer and fellow chaser – led the project.

Citizen science is where researchers involve the community to collect data to answer a specific question. In this case, we wanted to know what the weather was like at eclipse time, for the month of March, at various locations across the islands.  A number of locals took photographs of the Sun every morning at 9.40am (the time of totality) from their home or work location.  These photographs were then rated using a 5 point scale, from clear skies to completely overcast. The observations were also compared with the six-hour forecast to determine accuracy of predictions.

Sample of images captured in March 2013 for each coded category
Sample of images captured in March 2014 for each coded category

The following generalisations could be made:

  • As predicted, there was a lot of cloud.  However, on most days the Sun could be seen in at least one location at eclipse time;
  • There were several days where the weather was clear over most of the archipelago at eclipse time;
  • Some locations in the islands were more frequently cloudier than others at eclipse time, giving worse viewing odds;
  • The six-hour weather forecasts were not entirely accurate, with cloud appearing when clear skies were forecast, and some visibility where full cloud was forecast.
Frequency of cloud at eclipse time (darker regions represent more cloud)
Spatial map capturing the frequency of days in March 2014 where the cloud covered the Sun at 9.40am – totality time.  Note that darker regions denote more cloud.

A full report of this citizen science project was published in the December 2014 edition of The Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.  An overview was also published by Geoff for Astronomers Without Borders.

The results of this citizen science project confirmed my own direct observations of where to focus eclipse viewing in the Faroe Islands. It also confirmed the anecdotal views of local people.

Citizen science projects do have some limitations. However, this project allowed us to gather information about a practical problem in a way that was quick, inexpensive and which involved the local community one year in advance of the total eclipse.

Despite all this, we will still be very much at the whim of Mother Nature on 20th March 2015.  We can explore historical climate patterns, but as the saying goes, climate is what we expect, and weather is what we get. 

24 Oct 2012

Cultural observations within the path of totality

Taking a more relaxed approach to life at Mission Beach, south of Cairns

I have now returned to Cairns, the largest city within the path of totality for the November 14 total eclipse.  I like learning a little about the local culture when I travel to see an eclipse.   I am a North Queenslander myself,  so there is a lot that I already am aware of.  However, living away for more than 20 years has given me a unique opportunity to reconnect with an outsider’s perspective.

Firstly, the people of NQ are really friendly.  You are greeted like a long-lost friend, and you can’t help but respond in the same way. North Queenslanders are also extremely helpful, and nothing seems too much bother.  

Then there is the more laid-back mindset—you feel like you are going at warp speed compared to locals, and so it forces you to slow down and take things at a slower pace.  Even the pace of speech is slower which allows you to slow down.

And generally, people here are more connected with nature.  They have experienced directly and repeatedly the power of nature, and they seem to have tolerance and acceptance for what happens.  (I wonder whether this is why they are a little bemused at all the fuss about the eclipse).

I feel really proud to be a North Queenslander. I am glad I have this opportunity to reconnect with the local way of life in the region that is my home.

19 May 2012

My first blog…and on missing the Annular eclipse TOMORROW

I have finally taken the plunge and created my website. I’m not known for my technical abilities, so I am hoping that you will be forgiving especially in the first few months of this site.

The timing of my website going live is a little disappointing – I have been working all weekend in a rather cold Belfast when on the other side of the world an annular eclipse is about to begin.  The path of this annular eclipse starts in China, goes through northern Taiwan, the south of Japan, and then continues across the Pacific and over to North America.  It will be the first eclipse that can be seen from North America for many years, and as a result there is quite a lot of excitement.  And I am here, in cold Belfast, setting up my website on eclipse chasing.  So wrong!  If it was a total eclipse, then nothing would have stopped me from jumping on a plane to be there.  Annular eclipses are fascinating and awesome in their own right, but do not involve some of the most dramatic features as seen in a total eclipse. So I shall just have to make do with watching webcasts.  :(