A new NASA app will allow folks across the United States to become citizen scientists and collect data for an interactive map.
The NASA-sponsored Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program launched the app to allow enthusiastic spectators to document their solar eclipse observations wherever they may be along path of the Aug. 21 total eclipse.
This nationwide citizen-science experiment is easy to become a part of, and, as highlighted in the new GLOBE Observer (NASA GO) Eclipse App instructional video, requires you to have only a smartphone and a thermometer as you experience a partial or total eclipse. [The Best ISO-Certified Gear to See the 2017 Solar Eclipse]
"When the Earth goes dark for a few minutes during a total solar eclipse, animals, plants and environmental conditions react. In the path of the eclipse, temperatures and clouds can change quickly," said the NASA video's narrator.
Since all of North America will experience at least a partial eclipse on Aug. 21, NASA encourages everyone to get involved in scientific observations during this rare experience.
"No matter where you are in North America, whether it's cloudy, clear or rainy, NASA wants as many people to help with this citizen science project," Kristen Weaver, deputy coordinator for the project, said in a statement.
NASA will certainly benefit from the plethora of data it is hoping to receive from citizen scientists across the continent. However, this initiative is also a way for NASA to inspire concern and participation in an international scientific endeavor, according to GLOBE. The idea is to democratize scientific observation by helping observers to understand their surroundings and to excite folks about what they are capable of.
By mobilizing people to empirically analyze the world around them on Aug. 21, Weaver said, "We want to inspire a million eclipse viewers to become eclipse scientists."
Once participants download the free GLOBE Observer app and register themselves, the app will guide them to record their observations. The information is then placed by the app onto an interactive map that people can view to see how individual contributions have added to the collective project.
Editor's note: Space.com has teamed up with Simulation Curriculum to offer this awesome Eclipse Safari app to help you enjoy your eclipse experience. The free app is available for Apple (opens in new tab) and Android, and you can view it on the web.