Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Preview the Total Solar Eclipse with NOAA’s Science On a Sphere®

For a few minutes on August 21, the sun will disappear behind the moon in a total solar eclipse visible from a streak of locations across the United States. As the day turns dark and cools, those suffering in August’s heat may get a few minutes of relief.

Now, for those who cannot view the eclipse from its “path of totality,” or even for those who just want a preview of the live event, NOAA has released two new eclipse datasets for the illuminated Science On a Sphere®—one created by NOAA’s SOS team (led by CIRES' Beth Russell), the other by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Science On a Sphere®, a 6-foot diameter globe used to showcase planetary data, is ideal for depicting the path of the eclipse. When viewed on a flat map, the path of the total eclipse seems to arch, but when viewed on Science On a Sphere®, the moon’s shadow draws a straight line across the planet. The last time people on Earth could see a total solar eclipse from the continental United States was in 1979; the 2017 eclipse is the first coast-to-coast total eclipse track since 1918.

The 2017 total eclipse path cuts through parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina. Science On a Sphere® has been installed in 145 locations around the world, including seven in the states along the path of the total eclipse:

  • Oregon Museum of Nature and Science, Portland, Oregon
  • Science City at Union Station, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Climate Corporation, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Illinois
  • Imagination Station, Wilson, North Carolina
  • North Carolina Aquarium at Roanoke Island, Manteo, North Carolina
  • Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Georgia

Chris Steinauer, an educator at Science City in Kansas City, Missouri, said his institute will use the new Science On a Sphere® eclipse datasets to enrich programming around the August 21 event. “Our Kansas City location affords our guests a great literal view of what’s going on,” Steinauer said, “The added benefit of these great datasets is that we will be able to provide a global and celestial scope that simply looking up does not afford us.”

In addition to the permanent sites, NASA will be setting up a temporary Science On a Sphere® exhibit at the Homestead National Monument of America in southeast Nebraska. Homestead is in the direct path of the total solar eclipse and will be one of NASA’s official broadcast sites for the eclipse.

You can read more about the eclipse and watch videos of the new eclipse datasets here:

Solar Eclipse Simulation (NOAA)

Solar Eclipse Simulation (NASA)


CIRES at CU Boulder has partnered with NOAA since 1967.

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