NSF Unidata Unveils Eclipse-Avoidance App for Those Afraid of the Dark

Solar Eclipse
Nyctophobes beware
(click to enlarge)

The United States of America will experience its second total solar eclipse of the 21st century on April 8th, 2024. Millions of Americans reside in the path of totality, and thousands of others will travel to experience the surreal midday darkening. Many of those who experienced the 2017 total solar eclipse claim the event was indescribable, breathtaking, and even humbling. For others, it was a nightmare.

NSF Unidata software engineer Drew Camron recalls his own experience:

“A group of friends suggested that we travel to Wyoming to experience totality. I’ve always been afraid of the dark, but I decided to go anyway to support my friends. Wow. I knew it would be dark, but I didn’t know it would be that dark.”

This year, Camron has decided to avoid the eclipse at all costs. With the help of other supportive NSF Unidata software engineers, he’ll be paying it forward to others just like him.

NSF Unidata Eclipse-Avoidance app
NSF Unidata Eclipse-Avoidance app

“We developed the Eclipse-Avoidance app so that others like me can be well-informed on where to blissfully stay in the sunlight,” Camron describes.

“We’ve even designed add-on features to show the path of partial totality for those that are feeling a little daring,” said Ana Espinoza, NSF Unidata software engineer and co-developer of Eclipse-Avoidance.

Eclipse-Avoidance has additional safety features, such as a button for turning on your mobile device’s flashlight in the event that you accidentally find yourself in the path of totality. The app also comes pre-loaded with a sunshine-themed playlist, spinning tracks such as Daylight by Matt and Kim to set the mood.

NSF Unidata director Mohan Ramamurthy notes that providing tools like the Eclipse-Avoidance app meshes nicely with the organization's mission. “ We work hard to help our community use data to understand all manner of natural phenomena,” he says. “Broadening our community is always one of our top priorities, so we're excited to be able to use our data resources and development expertise to provide a tool that helps a sometimes overlooked swath of the population make informed choices about their experience of this event.”

The NSF Unidata Eclipse-Avoidance app is officially released to the public on the TDS App Store today, April Fool’s day, 2024.

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