Turn Your Smartphone into an Eclipse Tool Kit with Essential Apps

With a right apps installed, your smartphone or inscription can be a absolute apparatus for formulation and enjoying a Great American Solar Eclipse. It can broach forecasts of eclipse-spoiling cloud cover and navigate we to balmy skies, and constraint images of a obscure and your possess vehement reactions to a vast event. It can even pronounce to you, revelation we what to demeanour for and when, when to mislay filters and suffer a philharmonic of assemblage with your exposed eyes, and when it’s time to cover adult again. In this book of Mobile Astronomy, we’ll cover that apps to download and how to make a many of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.


First up: Everyone who’s formulation to observe a solar obscure should have an app that provides a solar obscure resources — a accurate times when a moon will meet, cover and pierce off a object during their observation location. This goes for both obscure chasers within a trail of assemblage and viewers who will see a object usually partially covered. [Total Solar Eclipse 2017: When, Where and How to See It (Safely)]

While all of a best paid sky-charting apps — such as SkySafari 5, Star Walk 2 and Stellarium Mobile — have that capability, a giveaway Eclipse Safari app for iOS and Androidhas this and most more. we lonesome a app in fact here: How to Prep for Totality with New Eclipse Safari Mobile App.

Eclipse Safari and other associated apps use your device’s GPS receiver to geolocate we on Earth. The volume of time a moon totally covers a object during a solar obscure is longest along a core of a 70-mile-wide (112 km) trail of assemblage — roughly 2 mins and 30 seconds for this eclipse. The length of assemblage drops as we pierce divided from a core line, shortening gradually and afterwards rapidly.

An spectator mid between a core line and a trail corner will see usually a 20-second rebate in totality’s length. A site usually 5 miles (8 kilometers) from a trail corner still sees 50 percent of a limit time, or 1 notation and 19 seconds. Within a outdoor few miles of a trail of totality, a sum obscure generation drops dramatically — down to small seconds.

Eclipse Safari’s Interactive Eclipse Map duty indicates either we are inside a trail of totality. To be certain of saying a sun’s corona, observers located nearby a corner should cruise relocating deeper into a path, even by usually a few miles.

Cloudy skies are a rivalry of obscure chasers. Though we competence locate a glance of a partially lonesome object by skinny clouds, assemblage will be totally marred by cloud cover. Therefore, it’s critical to compensate tighten courtesy to a continue foresee for a hour when assemblage occurs during your observation location. If there’s a risk of clouds, including thunderstorms that competence rise suddenly, we should be prepared to immigrate to areas with transparent skies elsewhere along a obscure path.

Take a demeanour during informal continue patterns, looking for disturbances that competence pierce into your area. The National Weather Service hosts an easy-to-use web page here that includes many parameters, generally a all-important commission of cloud cover. Simply click a drop-down list of continue parameters, name one and afterwards use a slider during a top right to upsurge by time. You can also click to wizz in on a map. [Solar Eclipse 2017: Traffic and Weather Forecasts for States in Totality]

Clear skies are essential to see a solar eclipse. The National Weather Service's forecasting website allows we to name a continue parameter, such as a commission of cloud cover, shown here. Using a slider on a top right, we can preview a foresee for Aug. 21 and make skeleton to be where a object is shining. To see your internal continue forecast, we can wizz in on a map.
Credit: National Weather Service

While your favorite continue app should also be useful while you’re divided from your home base, a giveaway Clear Outside app for Android and iOS provides scarcely all a skywatcher will need to know about a examination conditions. In a graphical format, it shows likely hourly cloud-cover values, prominence (i.e., sky transparency), and a odds of fog, rain, breeze and frost. (For stargazers, it indicates when a sky will be entirely dim after nightfall and before sunrise, a grant of light and even when a International Space Station will fly overhead!) 

Other favorites embody a giveaway Clear Sky Droid app for Android and iCSC: Clear Sky Chart app for iOS, both of that use a renouned Clear Dark Sky website. Both let we name from a list of continue hire sites around North America. They yield an hourly breakdown, in a graphical format, of a cloud cover, transparency, seeing, darkness, wind, steam and heat for a subsequent 48 hours. Note that a information is formed on destiny continue models that are updated usually about twice per day, not in genuine time. The Eclipse Safari app also provides continue updates for sites within a continental U.S. [Solar Eclipse 2017: Traffic and Weather Forecasts for States in Totality]

Depending on a trade overload in your area, we competence wish to start relocating toward your observation mark good forward of a obscure time. (Remember that assemblage occurs after as we pierce easterly along a path.) Allow copiousness of time to find a site and set adult in an unknown town. 

Your device’s batch navigation app will support we in formulation a lane to your examination site and in anticipating options for relocating if necessary. Use a trade covering to equivocate undiluted routes; roads in a trail of assemblage will be VERY bustling on obscure day.

Google users can supplement tradition layers to their Android mapping app. Here’s how to supplement dual generally useful layers — a trail of assemblage and a live trade inside a path. (Note that there is some doubt along a edges of a path, so you’ll wish to be good inside a lane to see totality.)

While logged into your Google account, use this link to call adult a map 2017 Eclipse Path. Then, click a star idol to a right of a map pretension to supplement it to your possess My Maps collection. For traffic, use this link to a Solar Eclipse 2017 Highway Traffic Map. This one includes a map legend. You can supplement and conduct a maps from your computer, and they’ll seem on your mobile device. Later, we can undo a map by visiting your Google account’s My Maps page.

For observers and tourists in farming or remote areas, internet coverage competence be singular or unavailable. To be safe, download offline maps for your obscure observation site and for any places we competence need to pierce to.

B. Crystal generated this map of likely trade firmness along a Great American Solar Eclipse path. Based on census data, it can be used to devise pushing routes on Aug. 21. Maps like this can be installed into an Android navigation app around a My Maps territory of your Google account. Eclipse watchers should try to find a plcae during slightest 5 miles (8 kilometers) inside a path. The length of assemblage drops dramatically nearby a dual edges.
Credit: B Crystal

Excitement for a obscure unequivocally kicks into rigging when a moon takes a initial “bite” out of a object — also famous as “first contact.” This materialisation is manifest everywhere a obscure is observable, including a partial-eclipse regions around a northern U.S. and Canada, and a southern U.S. and Central America. Observers with filtered telescopes or binoculars who wish to see a initial hit underneath magnification will need to know where around a sun’s hoop to demeanour for a encroaching moon, given it will be invisible until it “contacts” a sun.

The initial step is to know what time initial hit happens. Eclipse Safari provides a time for your plcae and a View symbol to beget a unnatural sky perspective as seen with exposed eyes. On that screen, appropriate to increase a view, and note a angle where a object and a moon seem to touch. Because a moon is shifting along a circuit from west to east, a hit indicate will be somewhere along a sun’s right edge.

The Eclipse Safari app's interactive map allows we to establish a accurate times of a prejudiced or sum eclipse. The initial hit of a prejudiced obscure manifest in Chicago will start during 11:54:18 a.m. internal time, with a moon initial touching a object during a top right, as shown in a app's sky make-believe tool. A filtered telescope competence upset or flip a view.
Credit: SkySafari App

If we are observation with obscure eyeglasses or binoculars, a geometry will be a same as in a app. However, we competence not see a “bite” until it’s vast adequate to notice though magnification. In a solar-filtered telescope, we can name an eyepiece that magnifies a sun’s hoop nicely. But remember, your scope’s optics competence upset and/or flip a perspective from what a app shows. Practice looking during something human forward of time to check this. Then, comment for any change when indicating a telescope for a eclipse. (Remember to safeguard that a filters are firmly in place!) When you’re practicing, use a same multiple of accessories (star diagonal, eyepiece, Barlow lens, etc.) that you’ll use for a eclipse. The solar filter itself will not impact a orientation.

Start examination a notation or dual forward of first-contact time. Perhaps a crony can watch a smartphone and call out a time.

REMEMBER: During totality, when a sun’s hoop is totally lonesome by a moon, it is protected to perspective a obscure with a exposed eye. But skywatchers should NEVER demeanour during a prejudiced solar obscure though scold eye protection. Looking directly during a sun, even when it is partially lonesome by a moon, can means serious eye repairs or blindness. You can read about other observation options here.

Taking peculiarity photographs of a prejudiced and sum obscure takes use and planning. The normal chairman with a smartphone who wants a souvenir of a eventuality can use their device’s camera app to take cinema of a partially lonesome object by holding obscure eyeglasses in front of a camera lens. You can use on a un-eclipsed object before obscure day. Alternatively, use a smartphone adapter to constraint lengthened images of a obscure by a filtered telescope or filtered binoculars. (Note that you can’t use typical obscure eyeglasses with telescopes, binoculars or cameras with visible zoom; we need specialized solar filters to hoop a magnified sunlight.)

And don’t forget to constraint your greeting to a eclipse. Set adult one person’s smartphone to record video of your organisation examination a eclipse. The vehement reactions will make a good memory. It’ll also uncover how a light levels dump over a march of a obscure — something your eyes competence not notice. [How to Film or Photograph a 2017 Solar Eclipse Like a Pro]

During a sum solar eclipse, a lot of engaging phenomena are visible. Things start quickly, and it’s easy for first-timers to not know about them — or to forget to demeanour for them. It’s protected to mislay obscure eyeglasses and perspective a sum obscure with exposed eyes and unfiltered cameras and telescopes usually while a moon completely covers a sun. And it’s critically critical to reinstate all insurance before a moon moves off a object again. You won’t wish to be looking during your phone during a sum eclipse, though how will we know when to mislay your glasses, and when to put them behind on? Well, there’s an app for that.

Just in time for a Great American Solar Eclipse, seasoned obscure chaser Gordon Telepun has expelled a singular Solar Eclipse Timer app for iOS and Android. Originally grown for PC, it announces out shrill a stages of a eclipse, warns we when to mislay and reinstate your obscure glasses, and tells we what to watch for. It also facilities assistance for obscure imagers.

The Solar Eclipse Timer app for a Aug. 21 obscure puts a seasoned obscure consultant in your pocket. Developed by maestro obscure chaser Gordon Telepun, a app calculates timings during your plcae for a pivotal stages of a eclipse. Then, regulating heard voice announcements, he depends down to any stage, reminds we to mislay and reinstate obscure glasses, and prompts we to observe a special phenomena solar eclipses bring. The app even lets we run unnatural use eclipses to get we ready. An endless assistance page acts as a practical obscure coach.
Credit: Gordon Telepun

The app uses your device’s GPS (geolocation) to establish your examination site, and afterwards calculates a obscure circumstances. During a eclipse, Telepun’s voice announces out shrill when events are about to occur, as good as when and where to demeanour for obscure phenomena, such as heat drops, dimming of a sky, a attainment of a moon’s shadow, and animals and birds scheming for bed. During a prejudiced phase, he prompts we to constraint images of a eclipsed object that will form a appreciative method of 10 images. 

At second contact, a start of totality, he reminds we to mislay your obscure eyeglasses and observe the fantastic solid ring and Baily’s beads effects, caused when object peeks by low spots aroun. The app audibly depends down a seconds until assemblage and issues a shrill tinge during a scold moment. During totality, a oral timer measures a time remaining. And during a finish of totality, it alerts we to watch again for a ring and beads and to put your obscure eyeglasses and filters behind on. The app includes representation images and content labels for any obscure proviso and phenomenon. It’s usually like carrying your possess personal obscure consultant or manager in your ear!

The obscure operation underline is generally good. A set of demo hit times can be installed for we to hear and see what a app will do and contend during a genuine eclipse. A second mode runs a unnatural obscure with an inset video display a genuine eclipse. we found this really helpful.

Another good underline is a ability to manually adjust your plcae (in box of GPS inaccuracies) and a hit times (if your device’s phone or network provider is somewhat off). The app has a page with a minute checklist for both visible and detailed observers, including what apparatus to have on hand, reminders to assign your device and camera batteries, and how to configure your device to forestall nap and switch off outmost notifications, such as texts and amicable media alerts. With a built-in assistance file, a extensive Solar Eclipse Timer website and a YouTube video library, this app is an essential apparatus for Aug. 21, 2017. It’ll positively be on my phone!

After a eclipse, destiny editions of Mobile Astronomy will cover telescope remote control, how to magnitude a distances to a stars, how to re-create some famous astronomical discoveries, and more. In a meantime, we wish we balmy skies for obscure day. Keep looking up!

Editor’s note: Chris Vaughan is an astronomy open overdo and preparation dilettante during AstroGeo, a member of a Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and an user of a ancestral 74-inch (1.88-meter) David Dunlap Observatory telescope. You can strech him around email, and follow him on Twitter @astrogeoguy, as good as on Facebook and Tumblr.

This essay was supposing by Simulation Curriculum, a personality in space scholarship curriculum solutions and a makers of a SkySafari app for Android and iOS. Follow SkySafari on Twitter @SkySafariAstro. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original essay on Space.com.


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