Frequently Asked Questions about GLOBE Observer and the Eclipse

When can I enter data?

Clouds observations can be made any time! We actually recommend that you make a few observations before the day of the eclipse, so that you know how the process works in the app, and because your cloud observing skills will get better with practice. The full eclipse app will be available on August 18th, allowing you to take air temperature measurements in the days leading up to eclipse itself on August 21st, and make sure you are familiar with using your thermometer.

What type of thermometer do I need?

There are a variety of thermometers to use for air temperature measurements. The simplest is a liquid-filled thermometer, but inexpensive digital thermometers are also available. Ideally, you should look for a thermometer designed for measuring weather conditions. You do not want to use a medical thermometer, but those advertised as instant-read for cooking may work, especially if they have a digital display. There are also a number of temperature data loggers and external sensors that plug into smartphones, at a variety of price-points. If you have a hand-held weather meter or a mounted weather station at your site, those can also be used for data collection.

Examples of different types of thermometers.

GLOBE has a list of companies that offer a variety of instruments that can be used for measurements.  Note that the GLOBE Program does not endorse any particular supplier, and will identify in a similar manner all companies believed to offer instruments required for GLOBE. you can also read more discussion of the merits of different thermometer types as one of the activity pages on the main NASA eclipse page.

Do I need to have an Internet connection to collect data?

You do need an Internet connection to download the app and receive your initial login information via email. After that, all data collection can be done offline. However, don’t forget to send in your observations when you get back to an area with signal or a wifi connection!

What happens if I miss a data collection time?

The data collection times are just reminders. If you miss one of the notifications, simply take another measurement as soon as you can. The app will record the exact time you entered the measurement, and build the temperature graph as you go.

Do I need to use the app to participate?

The app is by far the easiest way to participate. If you are interested in completing online eTraining, you can also access data entry via the GLOBE website. Contact us if you have more questions about how to go about doing that.

How can I check that my thermometer is measuring accurately?

For the most accurate measurements, make your measurements in the shade.

If a shaded area (or ventilated instrument box) is not available, even holding the thermometer out at arm’s length in your shadow will help. You can check the calibration of your thermometer using an ice water bath, instructions available here. It is also a good idea to familiarize yourself ahead of time with how to use your specific thermometer, and how quickly it reacts to changes in temperature. One way to test this is to take the thermometer between areas with vastly different temperatures, for example from an air conditioned building out into the summer heat, and see how long it takes to stabilize at the new temperature point. A faster reaction time will be better for measuring short-term changes during the eclipse.

How can NASA see the data after it’s collected?

All of the data will be available, to NASA and to the public, on the GLOBE Visualization System.

Can I do anything before the eclipse, or after its done?

Yes! The GLOBE Observer program is ongoing. We encourage you to make cloud observations between now and the eclipse, and continue after it’s over. You may also be interested in our Mosquito Habitat Mapper, which involves checking potential breeding sites and looking for larvae. We will also have land cover data collection coming soon, so check our website and social media for more information about that in the next few months.