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NASA asks 'citizen scientists' to collect eclipse data




Telescopic cameras and computer equipment are set up on Palm Cove beach in preparation to run a live stream via NASA of the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade.
Telescopic cameras and computer equipment are set up on Palm Cove beach in preparation to run a live stream via NASA of the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade.
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

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If you've ever wanted to be a scientist for NASA, here's your chance. 

NASA is asking for "citizen scientists" to help record data about temperature and cloud conditions during the upcoming solar eclipse. 

Anyone can become a scientist for the day by using NASA's GLOBE Observer App to record conditions in their location during the eclipse. 

Take Two spoke with Holli Kohl, Coordinator for NASA's GLOBE Observer Program. 

"[The eclipse] is a unique experience for so many people. It is a very powerful experience to see the sun disappear behind the moon's shadow. Scientifically it is an important thing because it helps us get a look at how the sun's energy impacts us here on earth," she said. 

How you can get involved with the citizen science program: 

"The first thing you need to do is download the app. The app is called "GLOBE Observer," then you're going to register, and then you should be set. After you have the app all set up you'll want to get a thermometer that can measure air temperature and put it some place that is shaded during the time of day when the eclipse is happening in your area. And between now and August 21, the last thing you can do is start using the app to observe clouds. We have an eclipse protocol inside the app, and you'll see the button and it'll become available the weekend before the eclipse, but there's also a clouds button, and if you click on that you can start practicing making those cloud observations, so that by the time August 21 rolls around, you're really comfortable with telling us what kind of clouds you see."

How Kohl's own experiences shaped the program: 

"In 2005, I travelled to Turkey to see my first total solar eclipse. I was sitting on the beach, and it was a really hot day. As the eclipse started to happen, the temperature started to drop, and by the time the sun was totally covered, it was very cold. It was very obvious to me that decreasing the amount of energy we're getting from the sun changes a whole bunch of things. So this year, as we look towards the solar eclipse, I came into it with that experience, knowing that you could experience a really drastic change in temperature and clouds and weather."

Kohl hopes the GLOBE app enhances the experience of viewing the solar eclipse. 

"I hope people feel the significance of the connection to the sun, and recognize what a powerful thing it is to live on a solar-powered planet. When I experienced my first eclipse in 2005, it surprised me how emotional I got, and so I hope people just have an incredible experience witnessing this event. As you do this citizen science, you will be connected to the environment around you to a greater degree, you will be keyed into different aspects of the eclipse than you might have been without doing the citizen science, so I hope that this contributes to your experience."

To listen to the full segment, click the blue play button above.