Eclipse: the Sounds of Darkness

Everyone is aware the Great American Solar Eclipse is coming on Monday. Everyone, while safely protecting their eyes, will be able to view one of the most visually stunning celestial events in the galaxy.

What if you could hear it, too?

The National Park Service scientists have put together a project to allow people to hear the acoustic aspects of the eclipse.

“It is clear that animals respond to the eclipse,” said participating NPS scientist Dr. Kurt Fristrup, with the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division. “The question is going to be: how much of that response is detectable acoustically? We could see dramatic changes. Past research has studied individual sites during an eclipse, and a few papers have been published, but no one has looked at this phenomenon on a continental scale.”

Audio recording equipment placed in biologically diverse park environments will capture sounds on the day of the eclipse as well as the two days before and after the event. Subsequent analysis will measure how the soundscape changed on the day of the eclipse.

And anyone can listen to the eclipse. The sounds will be released through the Eclipse Soundscapes app to give users opportunities to visualize the eclipse in real time through touch with Rumble Map, an interactive smartphone tool that uses vibration to convey degrees of brightness of the eclipse at various stages, and audio descriptions from the National Center for Accessible Media.

The Eclipse Soundscapes Project will increase understanding of how the solar eclipse affects soundscapes and other natural resources in parks.

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