Many people are looking forward to what they’ll see during Monday’s total solar eclipse. But a scientist from Purdue University is encouraging eclipse watchers to also pay attention to what they hear.
Professor Bryan Pijanowski is a pioneer in the field of soundscape ecology — which is essentially how the sound of different natural locations can tell us about the conditions and wildlife there.
“It helps us to address, among other things, issues of biodiversity, climate change, invasive species,” Pijanowski says.
But one thing Pijanowski and other scientists don’t know much about — other than through anecdotal sources — is how a total solar eclipse will affect the soundscape of North America.
“We don’t know much because there hasn’t been a lot of total eclipses like the one we’re going to see on Monday,” Pijanowski says. “I mean, when you really think about all animals in general, they’re all geared to a circadian rhythm. The sun really directs all of their basic fundamental activities from being awake during the day to sleeping at night.”
And this brings up some interesting questions.
“If it gets to be really, really dark out are the crickets going to start singing?” Pijanowski asks. “And the birds that sing during the day, will they stop? Will we have a complete flip of day and night as we listen? We don’t know.”
To find out, he and his team of researchers — who are scattered all across the continent with recording equipment — are calling on all citizen scientists to help.
Eclipse watchers can download the app “Record the Earth,” use it to capture sound of the eclipse and input any notes.
“If you push ‘upload’ it goes directly to our server,” Pijanowski says. “So we’re going to be able take citizen science observations all over North America. We’re hoping that we get thousands of inputs, because this is going to only be two to three minutes in every location, so I have got to get as many ears out there as possible listening.”