Podcast Episodes

Front Page Science wants to provide you with every tool to help you understand all about the total solar eclipse that will sweep across the United States on August 21, 2017. That includes graphics, maps, tables, and lots and lots of data.

Because podcasts are popular, easy to access, and fun to listen to when you’re on the go, we decided they were perfect for this website. We hope you will subscribe to them through the iTunes Store and then send your comments, which will help us fine-tune future podcasts so they’ll contain even more useful information. Thanks for listening!

001: What’s All the Fuss About?
[Posted 16 Feb 2015] Drama is coming to the United States. But it won’t be in the form of an economic collapse, a papal visit, or a political upheaval. On August 21, 2017, Sun-watchers along a thin curved line that stretches for thousands of miles from Oregon to South Carolina will experience nature’s grandest spectacle: a total solar eclipse.

002: A Few Facts About the 2017 Eclipse
[Posted 20 Feb 2015] We’ve arranged this podcast in kind of a question-and-answer format. Call it an audio FAQ if you will. Its purpose is to list some of the important details for both the general public and the media. Yes, the eclipse is 2½ years away, but it’s never too early for knowledge, right? Plus, these are the facts, and they won’t change.

003: Let’s Define a Few Eclipse Terms
[Posted 27 Feb 2015] We want to prepare you for the total solar eclipse that will sweep across the U.S. on August 21, 2017. So that we’re all speaking the same language, here’s a brief list of the most popular terms you’ll encounter. You should get familiar with them because you will see them again. Fortunately, we’ve got 2½ years before the great event.

004: Where Will the Eclipse’s Shadow Fall in 2017?
[Posted 6 Mar 2015] It seems the question everyone wants answered is, “Where in the U.S. does totality happen?” The Moon’s umbra, after sweeping eastward across part of the Pacific Ocean, makes its initial landfall in Oregon. Then it gets interesting. Totality will pass through 11 more states before heading into the Atlantic Ocean to finish its sweep. This podcast will let you know if you’re in or close to the path of totality, and where to head if you’re not.

005: The Total Solar Eclipse on March 20, 2015
[Posted 12 Mar 2015] March usually is a great month, astronomically. The season changes from winter to spring in the Northern Hemisphere, astronomy clubs begin to gear up for warmer-weather events, and observers pull out their telescopes in hopes of snagging distant galaxies. But March 2015’s biggest event occurs in daylight hours.

006: Planning for the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse
[Posted 19 Mar 2015] What to do, oh, what to do? What kinds of preparations should you make in advance of the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse? This podcast will provide pieces of advice and suggestions, each with a brief explanation, that you might want to heed for the upcoming event.

007: 10 Reasons Eclipse Day should be a Holiday in Missouri
[Posted 26 Mar 2015] This podcast started as kind of a joke. But as I began to write about a state holiday, I realized that it makes perfect sense for at least 10 reasons. And it’s not like I’m pushing something trivial. On August 21, 2017, the United States will experience the biggest astronomical event in its history — a total eclipse of the Sun.

008: The Total Lunar Eclipse on April 4, 2015
[Posted 30 Mar 2015] I’m posting this podcast ahead of when I normally would so some of you can head out and experience a pretty cool sky event. When it comes to record-setters, the upcoming total lunar eclipse Saturday morning April 4 certainly ranks high.

009: The Top 10 Eclipses in History
[Posted 9 Apr 2015] Despite the all-encompassing title, these are the podcaster’s choices for the top 10 most significant eclipses in history. Your list may vary, but it’s pretty certain that it would include some of the ones you’ll hear mentioned. How does your list stack up?

010: What is the Moon, Really?
[Posted 16 Apr 2015] When you hear that title, you probably think, “Sure, I expect this kind of information here.” And so you should. But the real reason for this podcast is an absolutely astounding television segment that aired on the QVC channel.

011: A Complete List of Locations on the Eclipse’s Centerline
[Posted 23 Apr 2015] Have you ever dreamed of listening to someone reading the phone book? Well, this podcast may be the next-best thing. It lists every location (city, town, village, burg, and point of interest) within about 5 miles of the centerline. In other words, these are the prime locations. Looking for a specific spot? A little fast-forward or reverse should do the trick.

012: What Will You See around the Sun During Totality?
[Posted 30 Apr 2015] This week, we’ll describe the appearance of the sky above three locations spread across the U.S. as it will appear at mid-totality. I’ve chosen Salem, Oregon, St. Joseph, Missouri, and Charleston, South Carolina. For each location, we’ll discuss the positions of two planets, Venus and Jupiter, and two stars, Sirius and Arcturus.

013: What’s Happening on Earth During the Eclipse?
[Posted 7 May 2015] Cool things are afoot before and after totality. Although the big payoff is the exact lineup, keep your eyes open during the partial phases that lead up to the eclipse and especially those that follow it.

014: The Greatest Eclipse Description You’ll Ever Hear
[Posted 14 May 2015] Here’s a description of the August 9, 1896, total solar eclipse as seen by writer Mabel Loomis Todd. Mrs. Todd was part of a scientific expedition that traveled to Japan to observe the event. Her wording is florid, but you’ll never hear anything that delivers the emotions felt during an eclipse like this.

015: The Time between Total Solar Eclipses at One Location
[Posted 21 May 2015] This podcast poses and answers two questions. 1) How often on average is a spot on Earth in the path of totality? 2) How often on average is a spot on Earth at or near the point of greatest eclipse for a total solar eclipse?

016: Filters and Eye Safety
[Posted 28 May 2015] As we’ve heard a million times, observing the Sun can be dangerous without the proper precautions. In this podcast, we’ll explain a bit of the science behind proper (that is, safe) solar observing.

017: 10 Ways NOT to Observe the Eclipse
[Posted 4 Jun 2015] With the eclipse now less than 850 days away, people are beginning to discuss safety issues. In my opinion, a lot of them are going overboard. That said, some definite no-no’s come to mind regarding solar observing, so here are 10 ways you never should observe the Sun.

018: T – 800 Days Until the Eclipse
[Posted 11 Jun 2015] The publish date for this podcast — June 12, 2015 — is a milestone of sorts: 800 days until the big event. Are you excited yet? Probably. You’re listening to a podcast dedicated to a total solar eclipse, so it’s not a stretch to imagine where your interests lie.

019: The Eclipse Experience with Mike Reynolds
[Posted 18 Jun 2015] Doctor Mike Reynolds is a former dean and now full professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He’s joining me for this podcast because because he knows eclipses inside and out, he’s fun to chat with, and, honestly, he’s one of the best eclipse photographers on Earth.

020: What is the Sun, Really?
[Posted 25 Jun 2015] If you want to understand more about the 2017 eclipse — and especially if you want to tell others about it — at least a small working knowledge of the objects involved is necessary. To that end, here are 30 brief facts about the Sun in no particular order.

021: How Will the Sun Appear During Totality?
[Posted 2 Jul 2015] Does this sound like an odd question to you? During totality, the Moon covers the Sun’s face, so the simplest answer is that our daytime star appears like a hole in the sky. As usual, the simplest answer doesn’t tell the whole story.

022: Head to Indonesia for the 2016 Eclipse
[Posted 10 Jul 2015] This podcast is a shorter, verbal representation of a story I wrote for the August 2015 issue of Astronomy magazine. It describes the spectacular adventure that awaits those who travel to intersect the Moon’s shadow in Indonesia.

023: Why You Should Observe the Eclipse from the Center Line
[Posted 16 Jul 2015] In all likelihood, the most important thing you’ll hear about the eclipse is that, on August 21, 2017, you must get to the path of totality. It’s true. Once you’ve decided to take this advice, I suggest one further step: Try your best to position yourself on the eclipse’s center line.

024: Don’t Feel Cheated if You’re not at the Point of Maximum Eclipse
[Posted 23 Jul 2015] I’ve encountered people who are determined to see the eclipse where totality is longest. If you can’t do that, I have figured out the other locations you can travel to and still enjoy the maximum length of 2 minutes and 40 seconds of totality.

025: 30 Facts About Earth in Space
[Posted 30 Jul 2015] I have posted “fun fact” podcasts about the Sun and the Moon. Well this installment deals with the third body necessary for a total solar eclipse to occur: Earth. And just like the others it deals with tidbits of knowledge about the third rock from the Sun — just in case someone asks.

026: How Does the Sun Shine?
[Posted 6 Aug 2015] What makes our Sun shine has been a mystery for most of human history. Given that the Sun is a star and stars are suns, astronomers knew that explaining the source of the Sun’s energy would help us understand how stars shine. In this podcast, we delve deep into the Sun’s interior for some answers.

027: A Crazy, Cool List of Eclipse Facts
[Posted 13 Aug 2015] How many solar eclipses must occur each year? What’s the longest totality possible? My purpose is to blow your mind, or at least impress you with a few numbers related to solar eclipses. And, really, that’s about all the introduction this podcast needs.

028: August 21, 2015: T minus 2 years
[Posted 20 Aug 2015] As the kids say, “OMG.” As I post this podcast, a scant two years remains until the Moon covers the Sun on August 21, 2017, creating a total solar eclipse that tens of millions of people across the United States will watch.

029: How the Sun Will Die, part 1
[Posted 27 Aug 2015] Every now and then, I take a break from purely eclipse-related podcasts and introduce you to aspects of the main players in the upcoming drama. Today’s story revolves around the death of our brilliant daytime star and what it will then become.

030: How the Sun Will Die, part 2
[Posted 3 Sep 2015] This podcast is the second installment that deals with the death of the Sun. But rather than concentrating on what the Sun will eject into space once it dies, now I want to take a closer look at what’s left.

031: The Partial Solar Eclipse September 13, 2015
[Posted 10 Sep 2015] On September 13, 2015, which is two days after I post this podcast, people in southern Africa, southern Madagascar, and parts of the Indian Ocean and Antarctica can witness a near-perfect alignment of the Sun, the Moon, and Earth as a partial solar eclipse occurs.

032: Eclipse of the Super Moon
[Posted 17 Sep 2015] On Sunday, September 27, people throughout North America under a clear sky will witness a celestial event that will excite the media and engage the public. A total lunar eclipse will present its eerie glow during a perfect alignment of the Sun, Earth, and the Moon.

033: What Do You Really Need to Know?
[Posted 24 Sep 2015] All the information I provide in these podcasts — as well as what you’ll find in magazines, books, and on the Internet — is great, but let’s boil it down to the basics. What do you really have to know about the upcoming eclipse?

034: Don’t Photograph the Eclipse
[Posted 1 Oct 2015] This tip — specifically directed at first-time eclipse viewers — may sound strange because it’s coming to you from the photo editor of the best-selling astronomy magazine on Earth.

035: How to Photograph the Eclipse, Part 1
[Posted 8 Oct 2015] My previous podcast notwithstanding, many people simply will ignore my sage advice and ruin their viewing trying to snap pictures. If you happen to be one of them, this podcast, and the following two, will try to help you as much as possible

036: How to Photograph the Eclipse, Part 2
[Posted 15 Oct 2015] In my last podcast, I gave a brief introduction and listed seven tips for photographing the 2017 total solar eclipse. Here are nine more, numbers 8 through 16.

037: How to Photograph the Eclipse, Part 3
[Posted 22 Oct 2015] The previous two podcasts provided 16 of the 25 tips I said I’d be giving you to help you photograph the eclipse, if that’s what you’re bound and determined to do. Here are tips 17 through 25.

038: A Fun Eclipse Myth
[Posted 29 Oct 2015] This week’s podcast is somewhat of a departure from the science- and technology-based ones I’ve done so far. In fact, it involves a story so old that it has achieved mythological status. The one I’ve chosen to tell comes from Hinduism.

039: The Infamous Saros
[Posted 6 Nov 2015] I admit it. This podcast will be a complicated one. The reason I’m posting it is because some of you may wish to delve more deeply into eclipse relationships. Well, listening to someone talk about the saros is a fine way to start.

040: Specifics for the Event at Rosecrans Airport
[Posted 13 Nov 2015] If you listen to the opener or closer of any of these podcasts, you probably know that Front Page Science is hosting a free eclipse-viewing party. But that may be all you know. So, I want to talk a bit about the venue, the reason I chose it, and the specifics of the event that will occur at Rosecrans Memorial Airport on August 21, 2017.

041: Picking the Right Binoculars for the Eclipse, Part 1
[Posted 20 Nov 2015] This podcast is number one in a series of three. In the first two, I’ll familiarize you with all aspect of binoculars. The third one, then, will contain some specific recommendations.

042: Picking the Right Binoculars for the Eclipse, Part 2
[Posted 28 Nov 2015] How should you choose your binoculars for the eclipse? Through the years, I’ve advised many amateur astronomers to conduct a short quality test before their purchase. In this episode, I will continue with my version of a buyer’s guide.

043: Picking the Right Binoculars for the Eclipse, Part 3
[Posted 4 Dec 2015] In this, the third and last of my binocular-related podcasts, I’ll give you some guidance for choosing equipment well suited for both of your eyes during the big event in August 2017.

044: 20 Hot Spots for Viewing the Eclipse, Part 1
[Posted 11 Dec 2015] Two questions everyone wants answered are, “Where in the U.S. does totality happen?” and “Where are the best spots to view the event?” For this pair of podcasts, I provide details of 20 of the best sites, 10 in this podcast, and 10 more in next week’s.

045: 20 Hot Spots for Viewing the Eclipse, Part 2
[Posted 18 Dec 2015] Last week, I posed two questions related to viewing the eclipse, and I listed my first 10 recommendations of observing sites for you to consider. This week, I will continue the journey from the northwest to the southeast, providing a personal note about each location along with that site’s timings.

046: Merry Eclipse Christmas!
[Posted 25 Dec 2015] I’ve titled today’s podcast “Merry Eclipse Christmas!” and, in the spirit of taking time off at this time of year, it’s going to be a brief one. Because I post these podcast episodes every Friday, this one happens to fall on Christmas Day. And whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, the new solstice, or Saturnalia, this is the time of year when most people rejoice.

047: Happy Eclipse New Year!
[Posted 1 Jan 2016] I’ve titled today’s podcast “Happy Eclipse New Year!” And like last week’s “Christmas” podcast, this one’s gonna be short. Partly because it’s just time to relax, and partly — OK, mainly — because I want to watch bowl games featuring my alma mater, THE Ohio State University. Last week, I took a look back at eclipse-related stuff that happened in 2015. For this episode, I thought I’d briefly list some of the eclipse highlights that will happen in 2016.

048: What to Bring to the Eclipse
[Posted 10 Jan 2016] This podcast is for people who will be traveling to see the eclipse, but who will not be part of an organized travel group. You may observe the eclipse alone, with friends or family, or at a public event like the one in St. Joseph. I thought it would be good to provide a checklist of both common and unusual items that I think you should bring to the eclipse.

049: How Good is Your Color Vision?
[Posted 15 Jan 2016] While the Sun’s corona during totality is white, other colors will stand out — the red flash of the chromosphere, the equally crimson prominences, and the widely varied “sunset” colors that will ring the horizon for the two-plus minutes you stand under the Moon’s shadow. All that, plus it’s a good idea to have your vision checked periodically. For astronomy — especially amateur astronomy — you want your eyes working as well as they possibly can.

050: Picking the Right Telescope for the Eclipse, Part 1
[Posted 22 Jan 2016] Buying a telescope, like buying a car, is subject to your tastes as a consumer. In other words, the choice is up to you — but I want to provide some guidelines to make your purchase, possibly in advance of the total solar eclipse, as informed as possible. So, I offer this series of four podcasts to get you headed in the right direction.

051: Picking the Right Telescope for the Eclipse, Part 2
[Posted 29 Jan 2016] In last week’s podcast, I introduced you to two of the three main types of telescopes along with some general advantages and disadvantages for each. This week, you’ll hear about the third major type of scope plus a little about mounts and magnification..

052: Picking the Right Telescope for the Eclipse, Part 3
[Posted 5 Feb 2016] If you’ve listened to the previous two episodes, I will assume you mean to buy a telescope through which to view the eclipse. In the first two parts, I talked about the three main types of telescopes, mounts, and magnification. I’ll start this one by saying that a good rule to follow is “try before you buy.”

053: Picking the Right Telescope for the Eclipse, Part 4
[Posted 12 Feb 2016] In this podcast, I assume that you already own a telescope or that you’ve just purchased your first one. If the latter is true, welcome to the beginning of your journey as an amateur astronomer. Here are some suggestions for observing that will prepare you for August 21, 2017.

054: The Value of a National Eclipse Committee
[Posted 19 Feb 2016] You might be surprised to learn that there is, indeed, a national committee related to the 2017 eclipse. In fact, this committee has been around a while. The first formal meeting of it was an eclipse workshop held in Greenbelt, Maryland, on April 14th and 15th, 2012.

055: Could Stonehenge Ever Predict Eclipses?
[Posted 26 Feb 2016] Stonehenge. If you’re into astronomy or astronomical history, visiting this legendary site is surely on your bucket list. But did the builders of this colossal monument expect the various lineups to predict eclipses?

056: The Total Solar Eclipse March 9, 2016
[Posted 4 Mar 2016] Nature’s greatest spectacle once again will take place as the Moon traces out a narrow path of darkness along Earth’s surface. In just five days — well, five from this podcast’s post date — on March 9, 2016 (UT), people from across the world who have traveled to our planet’s equatorial zone will stand in our natural satellite’s dark inner shadow.

057: 2016 Total Eclipse Wrap-up and a Look Ahead
[Posted 11 Feb 2016] Wow! I’ve had dozens of reports from people who viewed the eclipse from Indonesia or from ships along the path of totality, and all of them seemingly had clear skies. I thought I’d convey some of the reactions. As you listen to these, move yourself ahead in time to August 21, 2017, and imagine how you’ll react.

058: All About Shadow Bands
[Posted 30 Mar 2016] I’ve observed a dozen totalities. I’ve seen shadow bands once, and I wasn’t even looking for them. In this podcast, I’ll describe this phenomenon and give you a working plan if you’d like to try to capture them … if they appear.

059: History’s First Eclipse Watchers
[Posted 1 Apr 2016] We owe an incredible debt to ancient Chinese astrologers. Although they were most certainly not the first people to watch eclipses, they are the first group to have carefully recorded their observations. Many of the earliest eclipse accounts come from them. This podcast is a tiny part of their story.

060: It’s April 8, 2016: 500 Days Until the Eclipse
[Posted 88 Apr 2016] Wow! I wrote my first blog related to the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse exactly 1,000 days ago. A lot has changed since that initial entry. One thing I’ve noticed is that the excitement level has really begun to ramp up.

061: Why are some Totalities Longer?
[Posted 15 Apr 2016] On August 21, 2017, the maximum duration of totality will be 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Indeed, some eclipse totalities last but a few seconds. And the longest totality from 2000 B.C. to 3000 A.D. is 7 minutes and 29 seconds. So why aren’t all totalities 7½ minutes long? The reason goes way back to the time of the German astronomer, Johannes Kepler.

062: How Many People Live within X Miles of Totality?
[Posted 22 Apr 2016] Michael Zeiler, who maintains Eclipse-Maps.com, and who is a spectacular cartographer, has done the eclipse community a great service. He’s answered the question, “How many U.S. residents live within the path of totality?” And then he tackled the related questions of how many live within 100 miles, 200 miles, and so on.

063: Know Your Directions on Eclipse Day
[Posted 29 Apr 2016] So, when August 21, 2017 finally arrives, you’ll be excited and probably be a bit nervous, too. Everything has led up to your trip to the shadow and especially the 2-plus minutes of totality itself. Some of you want to find certain objects when it’s darkest. Here’s how I’m going to do that.

064: How Big Will the Sun Look in Your Pictures?
[Posted 6 May 2016] The only way to answer this podcast’s title question is for you to figure out the field of view for your optical system. I probably could make this a multi-hour podcast if I described this camera and that lens or that camera and this telescope. Instead, here’s a formula that will let you figure out a lens’ field of view on your camera.

065: Matching Binoculars to Your Eyes
[Posted 13 May 2016] This podcast has a different take than the three-part “Picking the Right Binos for the Eclipse” I posted several months ago. That miniseries taught you what to look for in quality binoculars. This podcast is all about maximizing the light coming out of the unit and making sure it’s just right for your eyes.

066: Occultations and Transits … and Eclipses
[Posted 20 May 2016] Something cool happened recently. On May 9, 2016, Mercury passed in front of the Sun from our perspective here on Earth. This hadn’t happened since 2006. Astronomers label this event a transit. But there are also occultations. Are the two events the same? And how do these compare to eclipses? Click “Play.”

067: An Eclipse Conference in Carbondale
[Posted 27 May 2016] If you’re planning on hosting or helping with an event for the eclipse, I have a question. Where will you be June 10 and 11, 2016? On that Friday and Saturday, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale will host the fourth 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Workshop, sponsored by the American Astronomical Union. And the group has invited the public in to hear the talks.

068: How to Plan a Community Eclipse Event
[Posted 3 Jun 2016] I attended the AAS’s August 2015 eclipse workshop in Portland. While I was there, psychologist and eclipse consultant Kate Russo announced that she had produced a white paper to help communities along the path of totality prepare for the event. Furthermore, she was making it available to anyone for distribution free of charge. I found her presentation and the white paper compelling and well organized, so I definitely want to tell you about it.

069: Why Does the Moon’s Shadow Move Like it Does?
[Posted 10 Jun 2016] I got the inspiration for this podcast from the following question that came into the “Ask Astro” column in Astronomy magazine: The August 2017 eclipse moves basically west to east. Why does the April 8, 2024 eclipse take such a sharp turn northerly across the U.S., then east again? This simple question has a complex answer.

070: Carbondale Eclipse Conference Wrap-up
[Posted 17 Jun 2016] The fourth conference of the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Task Force took place at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, June 10 and 11, 2016. The American Astronomical Society has sponsored these meetings, and we all appreciate the AAS’s support. This was a highly profitable meeting in several ways.