The 2017 Total solar eclipse on August 21 promises to be a once in a lifetime event and many people will lean heavily on their smartphones to participate in the eclipse. In our article – Using a Smartphone to Photograph the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse – we covered a number of ways you can use your smartphone to take stunning images and videos of the eclipse.
To make your experience even more fulfilling, there are a number of apps that have been launched to help you take in the full eclipse experience. Here we cover several apps that will enhance your enjoyment of the big event and provide valuable insight on how you can prepare for the big day.
Exploratorium – Explore Total Solar Eclipse App
Available for Android, iOS Coming Soon
The Exploratorium is located in San Francisco, California, offering a public learning laboratory exploring the world through science, art, and human perception. The organization’s mission is to create inquiry-based experiences that transform learning worldwide.
The Explore Total Solar Eclipse app is their first mobile app that incorporates live webcasting. This free app gives you access to their live video streams of the solar eclipse offering five simultaneous video streams, all from your smart phone or tablet.
These include: 1) Live coverage hosted by Exploratorium educators and NASA scientists, 2) live coverage in Spanish hosted by Exploratorium educators, 3) a non-narrated, 3-hour live telescope view of the full eclipse as seen from Oregon, 4) a non-narrated, 3-hour live telescope view of the full eclipse as seen from Wyoming, and 5) a live telescope view with live musical sonification and accompaniment by the Kronos Quartet.
Watching an eclipse with a group can enhance the experience as you observe shared reactions, questions, and comments. To help you connect to other observers, the organization has also created a live Twitter view, where you can follow the conversation and tweet as you watch the eclipse live on the app.
Foxwood Astronomy – 2017 American Solar Eclipse Timer Mobile App
Available for Android, iOS
The Solar Eclipse Timer app is a complete guide to solar eclipses that is simple to use. Created by Gordon Telepun for first-time eclipse observers as well as veteran eclipse chasers. The Solar Eclipse Timer is an inexpensive tool to ensure that you do not miss a second of this wonderful event.
Your phone’s GPS function automatically finds where you are, then calculates and loads the four eclipse contact times into the timers. Voice announcements tell you what interesting things to observe during the partial phases, and then voice countdowns guide you to the precise contact times.
To practice your plan for photography, the app has a demo session that plays a totality movie synchronized with the timers. The app includes a unique calculator that lists the times to take a sequence of partial phase images to create a beautiful sequence of the phases just like professional photographers.
Although not specifically a mapping program, included are Internet hyperlinks to interactive maps of the eclipse path to help guide you to totality.
The app also includes an extensive help file detailing the use of all of its unique features. The help file also includes eclipse day checklists and educational information about the partial phase phenomena.
Download the iOS or Android app, get yourself into the path of totality, tap a few buttons and sit back and let Solar Eclipse Timer guide you through this spectacular celestial event. There are no app ads and no in app purchases. More information is available here.
Available for Android, iOS
As the Eclipse2017.org website emphasizes, their app “…is not designed for astronomers, professional eclipse chasers, or scientists. It is not intended to replace all the great knowledge and information that is out there on the internet (including on Eclipse2017.org!).”
So, what does the app actually do? Quite simply the app is designed for the everyday person who just wants to know what is most important on eclipse day: Is my viewing location in the path, and what time does the eclipse happen? That’s what it does, and it does it well: It tells you that critical information quickly and accurately, so you don’t have to go searching on the internet to try and figure it out.
More information is available here.
SkySafari 5 App
Available for Android, iOS
SkySafari is one of the most popular astronomy apps available. It’s a full featured observing app that offers telescope control and more. So why do we feature it here? You will be able to use the app to control your telescope if your imaging or viewing the eclipse. And from a general astronomy standpoint, it offers a lifetime of astronomical content – point your smartphone to any point in the night sky and the app will provide a wealth of information on that part of the universe.
Highlights of the app include:
– Accurate Simulation: Simulate the sky from anywhere on Earth, up to 10000 years in the past or future. Animate transits, conjunctions, eclipses, and other events with time controls.
– Telescope Control: With SkyFi or SkyWire, SkySafari Plus & Pro apps can point your computer-controlled telescope anywhere in the sky.
– Large Mobile Database: 25,000,000+ stars, 740,000+ galaxies, and over 630,000+ solar system objects, including every comet and asteroid ever discovered.
– Compass & Gyro Support: SkySafari can help you identify stars, planets and constellations by holding your up phone up to the sky – as you move the phone around, the sky chart follows your motion.
– Educational Content: Hundreds of images from NASA space missions, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the world’s foremost astrophotographers.
– Precision Graphics: Computing the positions of solar system objects to sub-arcsecond precision with the latest JPL planetary ephemerides.
US Naval Observatory Solar Eclipse 2017 App
The U.S. Naval Observatory (USNO) on-line Solar Eclipse Computer can now be accessed with their Android app available on Google Play. The app provides information over the course of the eclipse, as viewed from a specific site.
Several events may be visible: the beginning and ending of the eclipse (first and fourth contacts); the beginning and ending of totality (second and third contacts); and the moment of maximum eclipse, sunrise, or sunset. For each of these events, the app reports the time, Sun’s altitude and azimuth, and the event’s position and vertex angles.
The app also lists the duration of the total phase, the duration of the eclipse, the magnitude of the eclipse, and the percent of the Sun obscured for a particular eclipse site. You can download the app here.
The Astronomy Technology Today editorial staff would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the availability of our Solar eclipse equipment guide – The Definitive Equipment Guide to the 2017 Solar Eclipse. Our goal with the 40 page publication is to provide an easy-to-consume introduction to the technological options for viewing and imaging the Great Solar Eclipse. We cover the gamut of options available including building you own solar viewer, solar glasses, smart phones, DSLR cameras, using astronomy telescopes, solar telescopes, using binoculars, solar filters (including a DYI filter option), CCD astro cameras, astro video cameras, webcams and much more. You can view the guide on our website here – its free and there is no requirement to sign up to read the guide.