1 Month, 5 Days, 23 Hours, 48 Minutes and Some Assorted Seconds

And so it begins! I’ve downloaded a countdown app and set the date to August 21st at 2:46:22 pm. This first week was mostly investigating logistics for my trip in August and conducting preliminary research on solar eclipses. I am planning on watching the eclipse in Charleston, South Carolina. Already a popular tourist destination, the eclipse has created a surge in popularity for the days surrounding August 21st so finding a hotel room was the first challenge. I’ve decided to drive down, despite the distance, because having mobility on the day of the actual eclipse will be super important. The quality of the viewing will highly depend on weather conditions at your location so the ability to drive to a less cloudy location on the day of the eclipse will be invaluable. My goals for the upcoming week are to make contact with people in the astronomical community in Charleston to set up interviews and get intel on where people are planning on watching the eclipse on the ground. I will be traveling down to Charleston on the 19th and returning on the 22nd so those days will have to be pretty packed.

On the research front I’ve had one interview so far with Justin Bartels, an astronomy expert from the Science Museum of Virginia who answered my questions about watching eclipses, their historical importance, his personal experiences and how best to explain the science to someone who may not know much about eclipses or astronomy in general. I am working on setting up some more interviews in the coming weeks to gather more information. One of the coolest things I learned from my interview with Justin is that in 1919 a solar eclipse actually helped scientists prove the general theory of relativity. I’m excited for where this will go next.

The final product of my research will be published online. I’ve been working with Richmond’s Community Idea Station and I think there might be a venue for publication on their Science Matters website, which will be exciting. I’ve given some thought to the format of my story and decided to write two. The first will be straightforward, informational science communication, addressing the event, what it is, how and where to watch it, etc. For the second, I’d like to produce a story map, covering some of the same elements as the first story, but in greater depth and with a more multi media approach. This second story will also document my own travels down to South Carolina and back again.

(Read more about story maps here. They offer a really cool platform for digital storytelling.)

Comments

  1. cjhiggins01 says:

    Awesome! I love your idea for informally communicating science with a multimedia approach. I am working at the Science Museum of Virginia this summer and I think it’s great that you got a perspective from one of their educators. I also appreciate that you are creating a product that potentially offers multiple ways to know, learn, and understand what the eclipse is. What are your thoughts on utilizing other platforms like podcasts (StarTalk with Neil Degrasse Tyson is what comes to mind) or video (Cosmos, Bill Nye) through a journalistic lens?

  2. carolina says:

    Hey Sarah,
    What a cool, creative idea for a project! Are you planning one of these stories before the eclipse occurs and one afterward? Also, did you have to get special glasses of some sort to view the eclipse without damaging your eyes, or are you just wearing sunglasses? Can’t wait to hear more, and I’m particularly excited to view the story map!

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