We’ve been gearing up for this eclipse for a long time. While some may be coming to the realization that there’s an impending eclipse a little late to the game, we’ve been exploring our options since 2016. Very few groups on campus (or nationally, frankly) are as well positioned as we are to make a show of this, and do it right. I’ve spoken to some YouTube science communicators in the past few months about their plans. A number of them are planning to travel to areas directly in the path of the eclipse with nebulous plans for live streaming the event. What, I believe, many are not considering is the impact to infrastructure from so many people traveling to such a small area. FiveThirtyEight has explored the demographic impacts of such a massive, compressed population shift. The Eugene Register-Guard writes about the “Eclipse apocalypse” while authorities in Lincoln City are cautioning people that “You might have to stay at your home for 3 or 4 days, have your supplies ahead of time, if not longer.” Cellular service is likely to be non-existent. Holding up your iPhone to live stream the eclipse is a non-starter.
Corvallis, Oregon, home to Oregon State University, is one of the most opportune spots for eclipse watching, with one of the lowest likelihoods of clouds. Oregon State University is inviting thousands to come and participate in the OSU150 Space Grant Festival. The campus is likely to be crowded with eclipse tourists and classes have been canceled for the day. This may put unprecedented loads on the campus network.
Fortunately, we have a plan.
First and foremost, Oregon State University has an array of live streaming webcams all across campus. These are full framerate, high bitrate, high resolution webcams, wired to the campus network (no wi-fi involved). That alone should make for a spectacular show as you watch the moon’s shadow as it crosses in front of the sun, starting at 9:04 am, reaching totality at 10:17 am, on August 21st.
Furthermore, a number of research universities spanning the nation, from Oregon to South Carolina, are collaborating on the Eclipse Ballooning Project, where high altitude balloons with cameras attached will be launched from coast to coast to live stream the experience via the NASA Channel. Oregon State University is collaborating with Linn-Benton Community College on this project, kicking off the show by launching a balloon from an OSU research vessel in the Pacific Ocean.
Lastly, we come to the Learning Innovation Center at Oregon State University, one of the newest and most technologically advanced buildings on campus. It happens to be one of the tallest buildings on campus and we happen to occupy the top floor of this building. With access to the roof, and having undertaken the proper safety precautions, we are preparing to outfit the rooftop with an array of high end professional video cameras with the intention of recording multiple aspects of this event.
We have a spectacular view of campus from our rooftop. So beyond simply recording this event and relying on our regular array of cameras to live stream the eclipse, we’re going to be taking this one step further, by live streaming the eclipse from the rooftop of the Learning Innovation Center using a 4K 360° camera.
We’ll talk about our evaluation process for selecting a 360° camera for this project in our next entry.