Road Trip to Totality

Posted on Tue, August 15, 2017

On Monday, August 21, a total solar eclipse is sweeping the nation. All of North America will be able to see at least a partial eclipse, but 14 states across the U.S. will have the unique opportunity to see a total solar eclipse, called the path of totality. There are approximately 12.5 million people living in the path of totality—an occurrence that happens only once where you live every 375 years!

On the day of the eclipse, STEM in 30, a TV show we produce at the National Air and Space Museum for middle school students, will be broadcasting live from the path of totality in Liberty, Missouri, starting at 1:30 pm EST.

My colleague, STEM in 30 producer Jon Boyette, and I have loaded up our van with equipment and are now headed to totality. Along the way, we’ll be making stops and sharing our journey on social media using #RoadTripToTotality.

We’ll make a stop at the National Museum of the United States Air Force to film its space shuttle trainer for an upcoming show about how astronauts train for space (scheduled for February 28, 2018). We’ll also be filming some historic science texts, including work by Galileo, Copernicus, and Hershel, at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City. But we’ll also be making surprise stops along the way, like this space acorn in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania.

Selfie in front of roadside attraction.

Marty Kelsey and Jon Boyette in front of the space acorn in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania.

Once in Liberty, we’ll be joined by Museum astronomy educator Shauna Edson, a NASA-approved eclipse expert and huge science nerd. Our team will be setting up all the technical requirements for filming the solar eclipse and triple checking them—this doesn’t happen all that often and we want to make sure we get it right. We’ll also be presenting to students at public schools in Liberty. Over two days, we’ll do four presentations about the eclipse, reaching more than 3,000 students in grades K-12. Our final presentation before the eclipse will be webcast live on the National Air and Space Museum website through our series What’s New in Aerospace on Friday, August 18 at 3:00 pm.

Then, on the big day—Monday, August 21—we’ll be live streaming starting at 1:30 pm on the Museum’s website. Shauna will also have a telescope trained safely on the Sun that you’ll be able to see anywhere in the world on the NASA website. And we’ll also have our telescopes in Washington, DC pointed to the Sun and streaming online from 1:00 to 4:00 pm on our Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory live channel. On the day, we’ll share how to safely view the eclipse, make your own artwork, and learn about citizen science conducted by the students of South Valley Middle School. You will also get to virtually experience the two minutes of totality!

Be sure to follow our journey over the next week with #RoadTripToTotality—follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Who knows what other adventures we’ll get into on our way to totality.