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Solar eclipse 2017: You can be a 'citizen scientist' during the Great American Eclipse

For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will cross North America on Monday.

>> Watch the news report here

The eclipse is expected to cross from Oregon, entering the U.S. at 10:15 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, and leaving U.S. shores from South Carolina at 2:50 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, over the course of an hour and a half.

>> Solar eclipse 2017: What time does it start; how long does it last; glasses; how to view it

Becoming a citizen scientist through The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment program begins with downloading NASA’s free GLOBE Observer Eclipse APP, which will fuel a nationwide science experiment.

>> On WSBTV.com: Complete coverage of the total solar eclipse

On Monday, citizen scientists will be able to measure how the eclipse changes atmospheric conditions near them, contributing to a database used by scientists and students worldwide.

The app explains how to make eclipse observations, but you will need to obtain a thermometer to accurately measure air temperature.

>> Solar eclipse 2017: Is it safe to take a selfie with the eclipse? How to do it the right way

Joining the experiment means you can help collect cloud and temperature data with your phone.

NASA said that observers in areas with a partial eclipse or those who are outside the path of totality are encouraged to participate alongside those within totality.

To learn more about how NASA is looking for the solar eclipses to help understand earth’s energy, click here

>> Read more trending news

Fourteen states will experience night-like darkness for approximately two minutes in the middle of the day, according to NASA.

"No matter where you are in North America, whether it's cloudy, clear, or rainy, NASA wants as many people as possible to help with this citizen scientist project," said Kristen Weaver, deputy coordinator for the project. "We want to inspire a million eclipse viewers to become eclipse scientists." 

Solar eclipse 2017: What's on your Great American Eclipse playlist?

On Monday, millions of people will watch the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in nearly a century.

So we thought it might be fun to make an eclipse-related playlist of songs that use the words moon, eclipse or sun in the title. 

>> Solar eclipse 2017: Is it safe to take a selfie with the eclipse? How to do it the right way

Or, perhaps, in the spirit of this “once-in-a-lifetime" event, how about songs that mention the sky or stars? 

There are some obvious ones, such as "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles, "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler or "Moon River" from the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's.”

>> On AJC.com: Complete coverage of the solar eclipse

That song was performed in the movie by Audrey Hepburn and later covered by Andy Williams and Frank Sinatra.

The thoughts of one Atlanta pastor also turned to eclipse-related music. 

>> Solar eclipse 2017: What time does it start; how long does it last; glasses; how to view it

The Rev. Patricia Templeton, rector of St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church of Atlanta, decided to make a list of eclipse- or celestial-related hymns for the music worship on Sunday. 

She included hymns such as “The Spacious Firmament on High” and “God Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens.” 

>> Bonnie Tyler to sing 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' on cruise during solar eclipse

Templeton also tweaked the Scripture readings. 

“My son tells me I can make anything relate to anything,” she said.

>> Read more trending news

Here are a few others:

"Ain't No Sunshine” by Bill Withers.

"A Sky Full of Stars” by Coldplay.

Now it's your turn.

What's on your solar eclipse playlist?

Solar eclipse 2017: Is it safe to take a selfie with the eclipse? How to do it the right way

The Great American Eclipse on Monday is expected to draw millions of Americans to cities along the centerline path of totality, where the moon completely blocks the sun, the earth goes dark and the sun’s corona shimmers in the blackened sky.

And with all the hype surrounding the total eclipse, you’re probably wondering if you can sneak a selfie in during the mega celestial event.

While we (along with most professional experts) recommend you put your phones down and enjoy the brief, once-in-a-lifetime experience sans technology, wanting to capture the moment digitally is certainly tempting.

>> How to photograph the solar eclipse 

If you’re planning to take a selfie (or use your smartphone camera at all), Nathan Yanasak and Jeri Ann Beckworth, both in the Department of Radiology and Imaging at Augusta University’s Medical College of Georgia, have some advice.

Eclipse selfie precautions and tips:

Lower your expectations. The eclipse will look very small in your selfie. Focus on getting the wide views of the sky and atmosphere, along with the eclipse.

>> Solar eclipse 2017: Your eyes will fry under normal sunglasses during 2017 eclipse, here’s why

Keep your solar eclipse glasses on. Safety is paramount during an eclipse, especially during its partial phases. Don’t look directly at the sun and keep your safety equipment on just in case the sunlight begins to creep in again after totality.

Limit your photos to the totality period. Yanasak and Beckworth recommend limiting selfies to the brief totality period, when your eyes will be safer and your camera settings will be easier to navigate.

>> Solar eclipse 2017: Make your own 'pinhole projector'

Be quick. Again, totality is brief — approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds (or less). Snap your photos quickly, with enough time left over to breathe it all in.

 Practice adjusting your camera’s control exposure settings. This is the most difficult part (aside from assuring safety) of capturing the eclipse in your selfie. Familiarize yourself with your phone’s camera settings and practice adjusting them during one of these two scenarios from Yanasak and Beckworth:

>> On AJC.com: Complete coverage of the solar eclipse

1. Practice during a nearly full moon. Try to snap a picture where a nearly full moon fills half of the view and is not overexposed—it should appear as a grey disk with clear features.

2. Use two dark rooms with a 25W incandescent light bulb in a clip-on lamp. Set up the lamp in one room, wrapped in a single paper towel. Stand in the other room about 30 feet from the bulb to practice your picture. Practice in the evening, and close your curtains to avoid stray light from outside.

>> Read more trending news

Consider downloading an advanced phone app, such as ProCamera. Even with all the practice, your smartphone camera might not be as sophisticated or sufficient for exposure control. Download advanced camera apps that give you more exposure settings and features.

Don’t zoom. Experts recommend using a wide-angle view and not the digital zoom on your phone while taking a selfie.

Do you need a solar filter for your phone? According to NASA, solar filters must be attached to the front of any optics, including camera lenses. But that’s not the case for most GoPro and smartphone shots, because the shots will be wide-angle views.

>> Solar eclipse 2017: What time does it start; how long does it last; glasses; how to view it

Apple told USA Today the iPhone camera sensor and lens would not be damaged during the solar eclipse, just as they wouldn’t be damaged if you pointed the camera toward the sun at any other time.

This is because the iPhone camera (and that of other similar smartphones) have a 28mm wide angle, whereas larger Canon or Nikon DSLR cameras have large zooms with high multiplication.

The GoPro lens is even wider at around 14mm.

“Apple and others suggest shooting wide shots of the scene, capturing not only the eclipse, but also the atmosphere...and the amazing shadows that are naturally cast,” USA Today reported.

>> What not to do the day of and during the total solar eclipse

Because you won’t see as much of the sun in a still photo, consider taking a time lapse or video instead.

How to actually take an eclipse selfie, according to Yanasak and Beckworth:
  1. Switch your flash from “Auto” to “On.”
  2. Turn on your front-facing camera so that you see yourself on the screen.
  3. Move around so that you position the moon over your shoulder.
  4. Use your right hand to adjust the exposure to the moon and hold.
  5. Use your left hand to take the photo.
  6. Now, put your phone away and enjoy the moment, whether you got the photo you wanted or not.

Plan to photograph the eclipse? Here are general eclipse photography tips from NASA.

Bonnie Tyler to sing 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' on cruise during solar eclipse

It's the epic matchup you've been waiting for, bright eyes: Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and a real-life total solar eclipse.

>> Solar eclipse 2017: What time does it start; how long does it last; glasses; how to view it

>> Amazon issues refunds for potentially fake solar eclipse glasses

According to Time, Tyler, backed by DNCE, will perform the iconic 1983 song aboard Royal Caribbean's Total Eclipse Cruise during Monday's Great American Eclipse. The cruise aboard the Oasis of the Seas leaves Orlando, Florida, on Sunday and will head to the Caribbean.

>> Watch the music video here

>> Read more trending news

"Bonnie Tyler was a natural choice for this once-in-a-lifetime moment," Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley said, Time reported.

Read more here.

Amazon issues refunds for potentially fake solar eclipse glasses

Having second thoughts about the safety of those cheap solar eclipse glasses you bought from Amazon? You're in luck: The company reportedly has given full refunds to some customers who bought possible fakes.

>> Fake eclipse glasses ‘flooding’ market, astronomy group says

"Safety is among our highest priorities," Amazon said in a statement, KGW reported Saturday. "Out of an abundance of caution, we have proactively reached out to customers and provided refunds for eclipse glasses that may not comply with industry standards. We want customers to buy with confidence anytime they make a purchase on Amazon.com, and eclipse glasses sold on Amazon.com are required to comply with the relevant ISO standard."

>> Solar eclipse 2017: Make your own 'pinhole projector'

Some possibly counterfeit eclipse glasses were removed from the website, as well, CNN reported.

KGW, citing Amazon, reported that "customers who did not receive an email purchased glasses that were safe to use." If you weren't contacted but still are worried about your purchase, WRC reported that you can request a refund from Amazon customer service. 

>> Solar eclipse 2017: What time does it start; how long does it last; glasses; how to view it

The news comes after the American Astronomical Society issued a warning on its website about potentially unsafe glasses for sale ahead of the Aug. 21 solar eclipse. Even glasses stamped with an International Organization for Standardization seal (ISO) could be fake, the AAS said.

>> Want to see the solar eclipse? Head to these 10 places for best views

"Now the marketplace is being flooded by counterfeit eclipse glasses that are labeled as if they’re ISO-compliant when in fact they are not,” the AAS said. “Even more unfortunately, unscrupulous vendors can grab the ISO logo off the internet and put it on their products and packaging even if their eclipse glasses or viewers haven’t been properly tested.”

>> Read more trending news

Your best bet is to buy glasses from an AAS-approved vendor, the organization said. See the full list here.

Must-see: Kayaker with beer lets the good times roll during New Orleans floods

Flooding in parts of New Orleans apparently didn't stop some adventurers from enjoying their Saturday in the Big Easy.

>> Read more trending news

>> Click here or scroll down for more

Must-see: Northern lights brighten the night sky in parts of U.S., Canada

Some lucky skygazers across parts of the northern United States and Canada got a chance to see the aurora borealis light up the night sky late Sunday and early Monday.

>> Read more trending news

If you missed the show, here are some stunning photos of the northern lights shared by social-media users:

>> Click here or scroll down for more

WATCH: Stunning time-lapse video shows supercell, lightning storm

A photographer captured stunning views of a long-lived supercell storm in Kansas on Friday that is wrapped in a vivid array of lightning bolts.

>> Click here to watch

Jake Thompson/LSM shot the storm outside Russell Springs in Logan County just as the sun set Friday. The mesocyclonic structure seemed to hover as large hail pummeled the area.

>> Read more trending news

Unsettled weather moved across the Central Plains of the U.S. on Friday, sparking off storms in several states.

Mom says baby overheated as United Airlines plane sat on tarmac for 2 hours

2017 is not a good year to be an airline company, especially if that company’s name is United Airlines. 

Passenger and mom Emily France said her baby became overheated recently on a delayed flight as the aircraft waited on the Denver International Airport (DIA) tarmac, reports the Denver Post. The 39-year-old said that passengers waited for more than two hours on the plane despite a heat wave in the area. France recalled “hot air coming from the vents.”

>> Read more trending news

“We just sat and sat and sat,” she said. “I hit my call button and said, ‘I think it’s getting dangerously hot back here.'”

France also said that despite requesting an ambulance, she had to wait for 30 minutes before she was allowed to leave the plane with her son, Owen.

“They couldn’t evacuate us. It was chaos. I really thought my son was going to die in my arms,” France said as she criticized the airline for not being prepared to handle her situation.

>> Man forcibly removed from flight after not voluntarily giving up seat

Owen was treated at a children’s hospital after the incident. Doctors said he suffered from the heat but thankfully remained unaffected by heat-related medical conditions.

DIA spokesman Heath Montgomery corroborated the call for an ambulance.

A representative for United emailed the following statement to the Denver Post:

"Yesterday, a child onboard flight 4644 at Denver International Airport experienced a medical issue while the aircraft was taxiing prior to takeoff. The pilot returned to the gate as our crew called for paramedics to meet the aircraft. Our thoughts are with the child and family, and we have been in contact to offer travel assistance."

Read more here.

Tornado Facts and Safety

Tornado Facts

Tornadoes can range in intensity. Wind speeds are measured on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which was implemented in February of 2007:

  • EF0 = 65 – 85 mph winds
  • EF1 = 86 – 110 mph winds
  • EF2 = 111 – 135 mph winds
  • EF3 = 136 – 165 mph winds
  • EF4 = 166 – 200 mph winds
  • EF5 = Over 200 mph winds

Tetsuya Theodore "Ted" Fujita (1920-1998) developed the original Fujita Tornado Intensity Scale. The scale was changed to the “Enhanced” Fujita Scale in 2007, after more information about the destructiveness of tornadoes had been scientifically examined. The estimated wind speeds were updated, and more specific damage requirements were set. Tornadoes are now measured AFTER damage has been assessed, days after a tornado strikes.

The size of a tornado is not necessarily a measure of its intensity. Larger tornadoes can be weaker and less violent than smaller tornadoes that have more intense winds. Tornadoes in the EF0-EF2 range are much more likely to develop than stronger ones, but all tornadoes can be deadly. Following these tips could save your life.

Tornado safety tips

1. Have a plan in place:

  • Know in advance exactly what to do when a tornado nears.
  • Know where to take shelter in seconds.
  • Practice home tornado drills with your entire family.
  • Have your kids draw a picture of their home with their “safe place.”

2. The best shelter is a tornado shelter, or an interior room like a closet or bathroom on the lowest level of your home, away from glass or windows.

  • Bring pillows and blankets to cover yourselves from falling debris and wear bike helmets to protect your head.
  • Have a flashlight and a battery-operated radio to take into your shelter with you.
  • You may even turn your television volume up loud enough so that you can hear severe weather alert updates.

3. If you live in a mobile home:

  • Get out!
  • Find the nearest shelter, like a neighbor’s house.
  • If no other shelter is available, it is safer to lie down, as low as you can, such as in a ditch, outside, covering your head with your hands.
  • Even if your mobile home is tied down it is not a safe place during a tornado.

4. If you’re in your car:

  • Get out!
  • Find shelter in a sturdy building. If you don’t see one, find a ditch away from trees and other cars.
  • Lie down in the ditch with your hands covering your head.
  • If there’s no ditch, find an open area of land away from trees and cars. Lie flat on the ground and cover your head with your hands.
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