Observer News

Supporting GLOBE Student Investigations of the Eclipse

A crowd of students observe the eclipse while sitting in a school sports field.
The upcoming 8 April total solar eclipse provides a rich opportunity for student learning. GLOBE educator and NASA Langley Research Center scientist Jessica Taylor offered the following tips in a blog originally published on the GLOBE website.

On April 8, 2024 many of us in North America will have the opportunity to experience a solar eclipse. Whether you’re in the path of totality, or will be experiencing a partial eclipse, it’s sure to be all the buzz. This is a great opportunity to turn the excitement about the solar eclipse into curiosity about other fields of science.

During the eclipse, as the moon comes between us and the Sun, we will experience a sudden change in the amount of Sun’s energy reaching our surface. This can cause changes in our atmosphere including changes in air temperature, surface temperature, clouds, and wind. This can make for interesting GLOBE student research!

In fact, GLOBE is interested in learning more about clouds and their relation to Sun’s heating with the upcoming GLOBE Eclipse Challenge: Clouds and Our Solar-Powered Earth running from March 15- April 15. As the Sun rises and sets, it warms the Earth’s surface at different intensities. These changes in heat lead to changes in the clouds, especially the types of clouds. To study these changes, we need observations at different times over the course of hours, days, weeks, months, and years from around the globe.  One instance of rapid change is the upcoming total solar eclipse on 8 April. This natural experiment is a great opportunity for those experiencing the eclipse to study how rapidly changing solar energy influences clouds and temperature.

An artist’s depiction of solar energy heating the atmosphere and fueling evaporation for cloud formation and winds. Along the top is a series of images showing six stages of the eclipse from full Sun to partial eclipse to totality. Text reads, “The Sun drives many processes in Earth’s atmosphere. Air temperature: energy from the Sun warms the surface of the Earth. Warmth from the Earth’s surface heats the surrounding air, causing it to rise. Clouds: Warm air cools as it rises, and water vapor condenses into puffy cumulus clouds. Wind: changes in temperature drive differences in air pressure, causing wind to form.”

Solar energy fuels many processes on Earth, including cloud formation, winds and temperature. This image is available as a poster. 

GLOBE Observer, the app of The GLOBE Program, will release a special GLOBE Eclipse Tool just before the eclipse. On the day of the eclipse, April 8th, when you go into the Eclipse Tool, you will see when maximum coverage will be for your location. The app will remind you to make observations of clouds and air temperature before and after the eclipse, at about 10-minute intervals. You can also document your location by making a land cover observation in the Eclipse tool. Be sure when using an air temperature thermometer to first calibrate the thermometer and minimize other factors that can influence your temperature reading, such as measuring temperature in the shade. The GLOBE Eclipse Overview sheet summarizes how to participate in data collections using the GLOBE Eclipse tool.

Screenshots of a two-page overview handout about how to observe the total solar eclipse with GLOBE Observer. Sections include: get the app, find a thermometer, set up your thermometer, using the app, collect data, and share your observations. The full handout is available in an accessible format at
GLOBE has provided many resources to support eclipse data collection, including this overview sheet, a training video, and a foldable guide to using the GLOBE Observer Eclipse tool. All resources are available in English and Spanish.

Educators have shared experiences from recent eclipses and suggest that in addition to having the option to enter GLOBE data directly in the app, to also use paper data sheets. This can also help if you are trying to engage multiple learners but do not have a device for each. The Eclipse Air Temperature Data Sheets (in English and Spanish) can help keep your data organized.

After you collect and submit your data, you’ll want to help learners analyze the data and put their research project together. If you used the Eclipse Tool to collect data, you already have access to a graph of your data. If not, the Atmosphere Changes During Eclipse Spreadsheet can help you organize and analyze your data. You can then use the Eclipse Student Research Poster Template to help put all the main pieces of a student research project together in poster format. Finally, consider sharing the research by uploading their GLOBE Student Research Report.

Screenshots of printable datasheets that can be used to record eclipse observations. On the left is the air temperature data sheet, and on the right is the solar eclipse journal. Both documents are available at in an accessible format.
A paper data sheet (left) may be the simplest way for groups of students to record their observations of air temperature during the eclipse. The Solar Eclipse Journal (right) is a good way for students to record qualitative observations and reflections.

If you’re looking for a less quantitative way to document your eclipse experience, check out the Solar Eclipse Journal. This sheet encourages you to use all your senses in experiencing the eclipse and even provides sentence starters to help you reflect upon changes during the solar eclipse.

No matter what you choose, make sure you and those around you practice proper eclipse viewing safety. I hope you enjoy your eclipse experience.


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