Public Media Has the Eclipse Covered

August 14, 2017

Free Resources for Learners of All Ages Shared Across Media Platforms

Eclipse photo composite courtesy of Jay Pasachoff & Ron Dantowitz

(Composite image of totality during the 2015 eclipse in Svalbard courtesy of Jay Pasachoff & Ron Dantowitz)

As the United States prepares for the August 21 solar eclipse to trace a path across the country, public media is springing into action, providing free resources for learners of all ages and across media platforms. Broadcast and social media coverage, educational web resources and local family-friendly events will culminate in a documentary with footage from local stations airing nationally on “NOVA.”

Ten public television stations in and near the 70-mile-wide “path of totality” — Oregon Public Broadcasting, Idaho Public Television, Wyoming PBS, KCPT (Kansas City), Nine Network (St. Louis), Kentucky Educational Television, WCTE (Cookeville, Tenn.), WTCI (Eastern North Carolina), WSRE (Pensacola, Fla.) and South Carolina Educational Television — will provide footage to PBS’s premier science program. “Eclipse Over America” will also draw footage from “NOVA” crews in Oregon, Wyoming and Texas and feature the history of eclipse science and cutting-edge research into the solar corona. The program airs at 9 pm August 21, repeating at 8 pm August 23 (check local listings).

“NOVA” and “PBS NewsHour” are teaming up for Facebook Live coverage of the eclipse from Idaho, hosted by PBS science correspondent Miles O'Brien.

Meanwhile, NPR will broadcast a live two-hour special from 1-3 pm Eastern Time as totality spreads across the nation, as well as special reports from member stations StateImpact Oklahoma, KQED in California, WKYU in Kentucky and WSIU in Carbondale, Ill. “All Things Considered” will feature interviews with eclipse-watchers across the country, and NPR will also have videographers documenting the events.

Public media coverage has been building for months as states from Oregon to South Carolina expect to draw up to a million visitors. Reporting has included science, education and travel stories and health warnings about using proper eyewear to prevent blindness. PBS LearningMedia resources, free learning tools for teachers and families, include an explanatory video animation from “NOVA” and supporting curriculum materials.

NOVA Total Eclipse animation in PBS LearningMedia

Other highlights from national programs and from west to east include:   

“Science Friday,” the weekly radio show distributed by PRI and airing on nearly 400 public radio stations, featured A Procrastinator’s Guide to the Great American Eclipse on August 4 and has a web spotlight titled The Great American Eclipse.

“Ready, Jet, Go!” has an eclipse-themed episode, “Total Eclipse of the Sunspot” premiering on PBS KIDS on August 15 (check local listings).  In the episode, Mindy, Jet, Sean and Sydney use a solar panel to improve their energy efficiency and notice Sunspot acting strangely, trying to alert them to the impending eclipse and the fact that the Sun would be darkened for a while. 

“Wow in the World,” NPR's science podcast for children, has two special episodes. In the August 14 podcast, hosts Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas help families figure out how to best experience this astronomical event. The podcast  has asked listeners, or “Wowzers,” across the country report on their viewing experiences on August 24. Host Thomas will view the eclipse at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and participate in the Smithsonian’s slate of family-oriented activities from 10 am-4 pm.

Oregon Public Broadcasting is reporting from around the state before, during and after the eclipse, for radio shows “State of Wonder” and “Think Out Loud” and TV’s “Oregon Art Beat.” OPB’s coverage is available online at www.opb.org/eclipse.

Idaho Public Television will have several crews documenting the eclipse and eclipse chasers, from the Pioneer Mountains to Stanley, Idaho, where a crew will do a 360-shoot for "Science Trek," the IPT children’s science web/broadcast program. Idaho Public Television will provide coverage for “NOVA” and “PBS NewsHour’s” Facebook Live event.

Wyoming PBS, which is contributing footage to “NOVA,” is streaming its live feed 11 am-12:15 pm Mountain Time on YouTube and Facebook Live, and taping a special episode of “Wyoming Chronicle” with scientists to air this fall.

Nebraska Educational Television, “Ready, Jet, Go!” creator Craig Bartlett, the show’s band, costumed character Jet Propulsion, and NASA scientist and series consultant Amy Mainzer will be featured at a family eclipse celebration at Homestead National Monument of America in Nebraska on August 20-21. Shows, games and NET KIDS activities will climax with a 90-minute program during the eclipse with Science Guy Bill Nye. 

KCPT-Kansas City is distributing eclipse glasses throughout the community and sending videographers to capture footage of people watching the eclipse for “NOVA.”

Eclipse 2017 | Can scientists still learn things from this eclipse?, by Nine Network

Nine Network in St. Louis has produced a series of broadcast interstitials to help viewers prepare for the eclipse and a segment for “Living St. Louis,” its weekly newsmagazine. On August 21, Nine Network will shoot footage at the St. Louis Arch and at Jefferson Barracks for “NOVA”; viewers can watch the NASA livestream feed and the “NOVA” broadcast in the Public Media Commons.

WSIU Public Broadcasting in Carbondale, Ill., will host a live radio show and podcast, live television coverage and children’s activity booths. Planetary Radio Live with Mat Kaplan,” featuring Bob Baer of the Southern Illinois University Physics Department and experts from Fermi Lab, MIT, Adler Planetarium and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, will be presented 5-6:30 pm on August 20 at SIU’s Shryock Auditorium, streaming live at wsiu.org/planetaryradiolive and wsiu.org/eclipse and airing as a two-part “Planetary Radio” episode on WSIU Radio. WSIU-TV will air live coverage on eclipse day with local and national experts 10 am-3:30 pm Central Time from SIU Saluki Stadium.

WNPT-Nashville’s Emmy-winning show “Tennessee Crossroads” hosts a Total Eclipse event on Facebook Live at 1 pm Central Time on August 21 from the Adventure Science Center during the Music City Total Solar Eclipse Festival. Host Joe Elmore will talk with David Lockett of Camp STEM from the museum’s roof.

SCETV and South Carolina Public Radio are providing live coverage hosted by SCETV’s Beryl Dakers simulcast on radio, television and online from the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia with reports from Clemson and Charleston 2:30-3:30 pm Eastern Time on August 21. SCETV will broadcast “Total Solar Eclipse Live” featuring statewide coverage right before the “NOVA” episode that night. Eclipse watchers can access SCETV coverage through the free SCETV app, from Google or iTunes. Numerous programs and segments previewing the eclipse are archived at http://www.scetv.org/2017-total-solar-eclipse.

These and other initiatives reflect public media’s longstanding commitment to providing free, trusted educational content that spans early childhood to adult learners and are made possible through innovative public-private partnerships as well as local and national reporting collaborations.