Once in a lifetime! On August 21, 2017 for many of us the solar eclipse will be a once in a lifetime event. The last total solar eclipse that occurred near the United States was on July 9, 1945 crossing northern North America, Greenland, Scandinavia, western Soviet, and central Asia.* On Monday, it will cross from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina with total and partial eclipses viewable around the United States. With only one chance to get this right, I wanted a personalized experience. In my search, I came across four apps that are stand-out for their quality and unique features.
Choosing an app for review needed to meet certain requirements. In this occasion, there was no Editor’s Choice to set a standard against. Instead I set parameters: more than ten thousand downloads, 4-star reviews must be at least double one-star reviews, and no cost or in-app purchase. For the eclipse, I added additional parameters:
- total and partial eclipse tracking
- countdown timer
- location tracking capability
- eclipse safety instructions
What is a solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse is when the sun, earth, and moon line-up close to the intersection of the orbital planes of the moon and earth.
A partial eclipse occurs when the moon covers part of the sun disk.
A total eclipse occurs when the moon completely covers the sun and the sun tenuous atmosphere.
Smithsonian Eclipse 2017 is made possible by the Smithsonian Women’s Committee, The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and SkySafari 5. Of all the apps, this is the easiest to use. The interface has a main screen with buttons to each page, no digging for information, perfect for viewing the eclipse.
Eclipse Safari is a collaboration between SkySafari and Space.com. Similar in design to the Smithsonian Eclipse 2017 app that SkySafari built the design is straightforward and easy to use. In addition, it offers a detailed viewing guide, NASA twitter feed with eclipse updates, and Shadow Tracker to view the moon. The eclipse viewing guide covers taking photos, eclipse history, and information about the eclipses.
Eclipse Megamovie Mobile Total Solar Eclipse was created by the Citizen Science project led by Space Science Laboratory and Google at University of California at Berkley and Ideum. It differs greatly from the previous apps created by SkySafari. Eclipse Megamovie focuses on photography. No matter your choice of device camera phone, DSLR, or phone and external gear this app will help you capture this once in a life time event. As a bonus, there is information on the phases of the eclipse.
Total Solar Eclipse is for those unable to participate physically in viewing the eclipse outdoors and only want to see a total eclipse. This app doesn’t provide any safety information because it is not about active viewing. Along with streaming the eclipse live, the app has short educational videos in multiple languages covering this and previous eclipses. Since the app doesn’t have a lot of features the interface is straightforward and easy to use.
Do you have a suggestion?
If you try any let me know what you think.
- Solar Eclipse of July 9, 1945, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse_of_July_9,_1945