Since a celestial event like this hasn’t happened since 1979, Monday will be your first opportunity in a while to view a total solar eclipse. Millions of people in North America will be able to witness the big event from a 70-mile path from coast to coast.
And, like most things today, technology is here to make the most of Solar Eclipse 2017. These apps are useful and can ensure you don’t miss the eclipse, that you’re in the best spot for viewing, and that you stay safe while doing it.
These apps use your phone’s GPS and give you information based on your location.
Smithsonian Eclipse 2017 (free iOS and Android) has a virtual eclipse simulator and an eclipse countdown so you won’t miss anything. And if by some chance you get stuck in a meeting, or clouds decide to cover your view, this app has access to the NASA live stream. So, even if something goes wrong and you can’t get outside to view the eclipse, you can still watch it on your device.
Totality by Big Kid Science (free iOS and Android) could be a great option for parents and teachers because it incorporates activities for families and schools to do that relate to the big event. This app also allows users to view eclipses all over the world. It also has a cool navigational feature to help you find the best route to get to the path of totality (where the moon will eclipse the sun 100 percent).
Eclipse Safari (free iOS and Android) also has the eclipse simulator and countdown timer, but also throws in a shadow tracker and live eclipse updates.
Black Sun ($0.99 iOS) is the only app I’m featuring that isn’t free, but it’s worth the 99 pennies. Black Sun takes the eclipse simulator to another level — well, actually, another dimension. Instead of the 2D simulations on the other apps, this one throws in 3D and outer space viewing locations. So users are able to see what the eclipse would look like if you were standing on the sun, or looking down on the North Pole. This app will also give you a countdown timer, and an interactive eclipse map that lets you drop a pin at a desired location to get directions. Black Sun will show you simulations based on NASA data for the next three solar eclipses, and it’s all hosted right on your phone, so it won’t matter if you lose cell service.
Make sure you take the proper safety measures for your eyes. I’ve seen posts all over Facebook from people (who didn’t order online in time) trying to find glasses. Remember, you can always make a box pinhole projector. That’s what we did in elementary school for the eclipse in the 1970s. There are tutorials all over the web.