Updated Data from Solar – X (21 August 2017, 10:19 am, EDT)

Visible: 309,  IR: 623,  UV: 0.29

Temp: 30.5 C, Humidity: 69%, Pressure, 100561.00, Solar: 172

In all we collected over 30,000 readings from Solar-X in Carbondale, Illinois (including 19,500 readings on the day of the Eclipse itself). We are analysing the results and they will be published soon!


On Monday, 21 August 2017, all of North America will be treated to a solar eclipse. The moon will completely block the sun for a precious few minutes. The longest totality for the 2017 total solar eclipse will be near Carbondale, Illinois for two minutes and 40 seconds. Those in the path of the totality will see the Sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona, possibly prominence, and some bright stars and planets. The day time will turn to night, and during the period of totality, we would be able to look up at the sun (completely blocked by the Moon) with out naked eye. This would not be possible during any other time.

From beginning to the end, the solar eclipse lasts about three hours. It starts when the Moon touches the Sun and takes its first tiny nibble out of the solar disk (the First Contact). During the next hour or so, the Moon starts to block more and more surface of the Sun. And then there is totality (between Second and Third Contact). And finally when the Moon stops blocking the Sun (the Fourth Contact), the totality is over.

Different Components
Solar-X with its different sensors to take Eclipse Measurements

We thought it would be interesting to measure the changes happening in our surrounding environment as Moon starts to block the Sunlight. We wrote down all the questions we had in our mind in our notebooks. For instance, how much would the brightness decrease as the eclipse progresses? Will there be any change in the surrounding temperature? Do UV rays coming from the Sun get affected during the eclipse, and lots of other questions.

To achieve this, we created our Solar-X device from a Lunch Box, Arduino micro controller, Sensors, Digital Clock and SD Card Module. We added and coded each component separately to test and calibrate them. We then integrated and miniaturized them to fit everything into a lunch box.

After two weeks of making and coding, the Solar-X was ready for action. Unfortunately, the total Solar Eclipse totally bypasses Canada. Thus we decided to travel down South to Carbondale in Illinois, USA. Carbondale would experience totality of the longest duration for the 2017 Solar Eclipse. Incidentally the next total Solar Eclipse in North America would also pass through Carbondale – in 2024!

Carbondale train
Demonstrating our Solar-X device on Amtrak Train to Carbondale, Illinois

We made the journey to Carbondale by Amtrak Train. It provided us an opportunity to test the Solar-X device and get some baseline data. We were also able to do outreach about Solar Eclipse, the science related to it, and what kind of scientific experiments we can do during the Solar Eclipse to the fellow passengers.

Carbondale Eclipse Capital
Carbondale had transformed itself to the Solar Eclipse Capital of the World!

Carbondale was transformed totally into a Solar Eclipse town. One could hide the Sun with the Moon but one could not hide the efforts the Carbondale administration had made to make the Solar Eclipse a very enjoyable experience for visitors. From “Welcome to Carbondale” signs to Eclipse Marketplace, Family Fun Zone, Misting Stations, Eclipse Expo, Crossroads workshop on Eclipe, it catered to all kinds of eclipse goers.

SIU Carbondale.jpg
Collecting Baseline Data two days prior to the Solar Eclipse

At Carbondale, we scouted out various sites and tested our Solar-X. We simulated the solar eclipse by putting the device in the sun and then slowly moving it to shade.

carbondale baseline data
Collecting Baseline Data two days prior to the Solar Eclipse

It worked perfectly well and it was able to record minute changes in different parameters. The only thing we had to modify was the clock to account for time difference between Toronto and Carbondale.

We showcased our device at several avenues including at the Crossroads Astronomy, Science and Technology Expo and Workshop organised by the Southern Illinois University. It provided us an opportunity to meet other teams undertaking scientific experiments during the Solar Eclipse and how we can share data from our individual experiments for comparison and analysis purpose.

Carbondale Carlo.jpg
Giving Demo of Solar-X to Dr. Carlo Montemagno, Chancellor of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

We also gave a demonstration about Solar-X to the Chancellor of the University, Dr. Carlo Montemagno. He was very curious about our device and asked challenging questions, including data sampling rate. As we had coded every line, we knew the answer was 1 second!

We also met Autumn Burdick, Communications Director of the NASA Globe Observer App. She was very interested in our device and encouraged us to submit our data into the NASA Globe Observer App. We will certainly do so!

Carbondale NASA
Learning from Autumn Burdick, Communications Director of the NASA Globe Observer App on how to submit our data from Solar-X into @NASAGO App

Keep checking here for the results from Solar-X during the Solar Eclipse 2017!

In media: 

Seize the day: Hobbyists become Citizen Scientists for solar eclipse 


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