Taking video. Even with a smart phone, you can capture stunning video of the total phase of the eclipse. There are at least two projects in which citizen scientists can take part. The Eclipse Megamovie will gather information from at least 1,000 observations and stitch them all together into one massive video. Then there is the Citizen Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse Experiment, which has volunteers operating telescopes in the hopes of gathering scientific data that can be used by the community; CATE's data will also be stitched into a 90-minute video. More information about the projects are on their respective websites.
Nordgren emphasizes there is a "long history" of scientists involving the general public in learning about eclipses. Perhaps the first recorded example is British astronomer Edmund Halley, who wanted to revise his orbit of the moon when a total eclipse happened over London in 1715. "He needed to know exactly when the eclipse would be visible," Nordgren said. "So he put out posters ahead of time asking people to go out, stand at their house, look at totality and use the clock in their house to see how long totality lasted."
To learn more about the 2017 solar eclipse, you can check out Nordgren's book Sun Moon Earth, which was published last year and concerns the history of solar eclipses. Nordgren has also created some nifty eclipse-themed posters, available at his website.
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