Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

The Great American Eclipse

On August 21st, 2017, many people in the United States had their first chance in 38 years to experience a total solar eclipse. The path of totality extended all the way from Oregon to South Carolina.

We invited educators to join us as we experienced this spectacular event, as it was a wonderful opportunity to collect and share data using Vernier technology.

Data Collection during the Eclipse

Educators from across the nation shared the data they collected during the eclipse using Vernier technology. Sensors used to collect data during the eclipse included the Stainless Steel Temperature Probe, the Light Sensor, and the UVA and UVB Sensors. Check out their results below.

If you want to share your eclipse data, graphs, photos, and videos, you can submit them to us at eclipse@vernier.com

Graph of light and UV during eclipse

Benjamin Grimes in Indianapolis, Indiana

Benjamin Grimes of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, captured data outside the path of totality with a UVA Sensor, a UVB Sensor, and a Light Sensor.

“It really was exciting to watch the light intensity in three different ranges change as a result of both the eclipse and the cloud cover. My students had a great discussion.”

Indianapolis had about 93% of totality during the eclipse (note that none of the readings go quite to zero). Benjamin reported that he attempted to start data collection as close to noon as possible, so that time would be 0 on the graph. The maximum for the eclipse occurred at approximately 2:25 pm.

Download the Data

Experiment setup Light and temperature data during the totality

Eric Sullenberger in Perryville, Missouri

Eric Sullenberger captured data in Perryville, Missouri, in totality with a Light Sensor and a Go!Temp.

“I had the LabQuest 2 record data every 5 seconds for a little over 2.5 hours… I really regret not having an external or internal microphone to record crowd noises. Dogs started barking a minute before and after totality, and the crowd was louder than I thought they would be (most were on a baseball diamond a distance behind me).”

The temperature reached a minimum a little after the eclipse. That may be because the Go!Temp has a fairly thick stainless-steel case and takes a while to respond to changes in air temperature.

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Light and UV data during the totality Solar power production on the day of the eclipse and the day after

Dave Vernier in Turner, Oregon

Dave Vernier captured data in Turner, Oregon, near the center of the zone of totality, with perfectly clear skies.

“Compare the levels before and after the eclipse. In all cases, the levels are higher after the eclipse. Why? Since the eclipse here was total at 10:18 am (PDT), the sun was rising in the sky. It was at 41 degrees C at totality, and higher after totality, so all the levels are higher, especially the UV levels.”

There was a lot of discussion before the eclipse about the impact of the eclipse on solar power production. At our office building in Beaverton, Oregon, which was within 99 percent of totality, we have 17 kW of solar panels. The power output from these panels is reported every 15 minutes. I compared our solar production on the day of the eclipse with the following day. Note the major drop in the solar power output on the morning of the eclipse.

Download Sensor Data Download Solar Panel Data

Light and temperature data during the totality

Sonia Faletti in Gaston, South Carolina

Sonia Faletti of Bishop Ireton High School captured data during the eclipse in Gaston, South Carolina. Her location was in the path of totality, and there were no clouds. She used LabQuest 2, a Light Sensor, and a Stainless Steel Temperature Probe.

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Temperature data during the totality

Lisa Tiedemann in Waterloo, Illinois

Lisa Tiedemann of Waterloo High School was in the path of totality in Waterloo, Illinois. She collected data starting at 7:00 am (CDT) and continued through the eclipse. During data collection, her temperature probe was in the sun. A front with a rain storm came through near the end of the data collection.

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Temperature data during the totality

Jim Stankevitz in Columbia, Missouri

Jim Stankevitz of Wheaton Warrenville South High School captured data in Columbia, Missouri, in the path of totality for the eclipse. He got data from a temperature probe that was kept in the shade, and he reported a few high clouds.

“The probe was kept shaded during the entire eclipse, so no direct sunlight was striking the probe. There were a few high clouds passing by during the eclipse. The steep drop at totality was surprising.”

We recently heard that Jim is in his 42nd year of teaching and is retiring. Congratulations to Jim on a great career in science education.

Download the Data

Temperature and light data during the totality

Matt Selinger in Imperial, Missouri

Matt Selinger of Seckman Sr High School in Imperial, Missouri, took data in the path of totality, just north of his school. The temperature sensor was in the shade, and Matt had his light sensor pointed directly north at 38 degrees toward polar north. Doing so provided much lower readings than when aiming the Light Sensor toward the sun, while the general shape of the graph is similar.

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Temperature and light data during the totality

Clarence Bakken in Sunnyvale, California

A former physics teacher and long-time consultant for Vernier, Clarence Bakken collected data in Sunnyvale, California. The eclipse was about 74 percent total in that area.

“The two points off the general trend near the start were due to adjustments in the setup to insure the sensors were pointed directly at the sun, t = 0 occurred approximately at 9:00 am.”

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Temperature and light data during the totality

Terry Evers in Newberg, Oregon

Terry Evers of Ewing Young Elementary in Newberg, Oregon, collected data in Kaiser, Oregon. He used a TI Light Probe and Vernier Go!Temp.

“It was a fun experience. Both sensors were in direct sunlight and in a very well ventilated area for the whole time. As you may have noticed someone accidentally blocked the light sensor for a moment early on.”

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light and UV data during the totality Solar radiation data during the totality

Fran Poodry and Colleen McDaniel in Detroit Lake, Oregon

Fran Poodry and Colleen McDaniel, from the Vernier technical support team, collected data while camping at Detroit Lake, Oregon. Forest fires near their location created smokey conditions, especially in the morning. Note the Illumination and UV levels are considerably lower than at nearby locations with clear sky.

These graphs show data from two unusual sensors. The PAR (Photosynthetically-Active Radiation) sensor measures the radiation that is most useful for plants. The Pyranometer measures all solar radiation. Both of these sensors are designed to be mounted vertically and they measure radiation coming in from all directions.

Download Light and UV Data Download Solar Radiation Data

temperature and UV data during the totality Light and solar radiation data during the totality

Karen Jo Matsen in Knob Noster, Missouri

Karen Jo Matsen, from Texas, traveled to Kansas City, Missouri, before finding a location without a storm. She finally found a worthwhile location to watch the eclipse in Knob Noster, which was within the path of totality.

She used the Pyranometer to measure total solar radiation and light level. The effect of the clouds before totality can be seen in the pyranometer data. The Light Sensor was set on the 6000 lux range, so the sensor was pegged out until the sun was mostly blocked. Karen Jo also took UVA, UVB, and temperature data during the eclipse (the temperature probe was in full sun).

Download Temperature and UV Data Download Light and Solar Radiation Data

Temperature, UVB, and light data during the totality

Bridget Adkins in Nashville, Tennessee

Bridget Adkins, from Franklin Road Academy, collected data in Nashville, Tennessee, which was in the path of totality. She followed the GLOBE® protocols for cloud cover and temperature measurement. Totality was at 70 minutes after the start of data collection.

“We had full view of sun during the entire eclipse—perfect weather. [GLOBE® protocols] have you measure air temp in the shade. For this situation, it was in the shadow of the platform where I was collecting other data.”

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LabQuest 2 with temperature and light data during the totality Weather station data during the totality

Glenn Sullivan in Plain Dealing, Louisiana

Glenn Sullivan from Plain Dealing High School in northern Louisiana, captured data in about 80 percent totality. He monitored the data from inside his classroom using LabQuest 2 and LabQuest Viewer. There were clouds early and late during the data collection run. He also captured data using a Davis Instruments weather station. The graph here shows irradiance and the air temperature on eclipse day. The peak of the eclipse would have been about 1:20 pm at that location.

If you want to share your eclipse data, graphs, photos, and videos, you can submit them at eclipse@vernier.com

Dave’s Eclipse Tips

Tip 1

Never look directly at the sun

Never look directly at the sun, except when the sun is completely blocked by the moon. During the partial phase of the eclipse, you will need glasses for viewing the sun.

Tip 2

Be in the path of totality

As the eclipse approaches totality, the brightness of the sky dims to a point where Venus and Jupiter start to become visible.

Tip 3

Collect data during the eclipse

It takes at least an hour from when the moon first starts to obscure the sun until totality. You then have the same amount of time after the eclipse until the sun is completely unblocked.

See all the eclipse tips
Dave Vernier in the Australian Outback collecting data during a 2002 total solar eclipse with a very old laptop and a Palm Pilot
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