AAS & Big Kid Science Unveil Totality 3.0
Just in time for the October 14th solar eclipse across America, the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and Big Kid Science have released version 3.0 of the Totality app, available free for iOS and Android smartphones. Totality, your solar eclipse companion, puts recent and upcoming annular and total eclipses in your pocket and includes the following features, among others:
- Interactive maps that show what you’ll see at any location in the Americas for the annular solar eclipse of 14 October 2023 and the total solar eclipse of April 2024.
- Interactive maps of other recent and upcoming solar eclipses around the world. All maps are based on code by renowned eclipse expert Xavier Jubier.
- Using your phone’s GPS, the app tells you not only what you can see at your current location, but also shows the nearest location where you can witness annularity or totality and, where possible, provides driving directions to the eclipse’s central line.
- Zoom, scroll, and tap to move around the map, get a table of eclipse circumstances at any location, and bring up additional details.
- Learn how, when, and why eclipses occur, as well as how to observe them safely.
- And it’s all free — with no ads — created as a public service by Big Kid Science and sponsored by the AAS.
The new and improved version 3.0 of Totality is available for iOS and Android devices in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. (The appropriate language appears automatically based on your device’s language setting.)
To learn more about Totality, watch the introductory video on YouTube and see the app’s page at Big Kid Science. For links to more eclipse-related smartphone apps, programs for desktop and laptop computers, and other useful resources, see the Apps & Software page on the website of the AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force.
Big Kid Science & the AAS
Astronomer, educator, and author Jeffrey Bennett, a longtime AAS member and founder of Big Kid Science, conceived the Totality app in advance of the August 2017 “Great American” total solar eclipse. “I saw a need for an easy to use, free app to help both kids and adults know exactly when and where they could watch an upcoming eclipse and that would provide accurate information about safe viewing and eclipse science,” recalls Bennett. “Eclipse-chasing computer programmer Xavier Jubier generously provided his eclipse-calculation code for use in the app, and the brilliant software engineers at Germinate LLC then turned our vision into reality.” The app was downloaded about 100,000 times in the weeks before the 2017 solar eclipse.
The team subsequently updated the app to version 2.0 for use with the 2019-2022 solar eclipses. Bennett then donated Totality to the AAS to ensure the free availability of version 3.0 for the 2023 and 2024 solar eclipses and beyond. As a nonprofit educational organization, the AAS is able to get free access to the Google Maps application programming interface, on which Totality’s mapping routines are based, whereas for-profit developers now have to pay to use it. Keeping the app free is important to maximize its use for education and public outreach.
Home screen of the Totality app, version 3.0, as seen on an iPhone. Courtesy Big Kid Science and the American Astronomical Society.
These screen grabs from the Totality app show solar eclipse circumstances for locations near the central lines for the October 2023 annular eclipse (left pair) and April 2024 total eclipse (right pair) as well as for a location outside the path of totality, where only a partial eclipse will be visible, for the April 2024 eclipse (middle pair).
About the AAS
The American Astronomical Society (AAS), established in 1899, is a major international organization of professional astronomers, astronomy educators, and amateur astronomers. Its membership of approximately 8,000 also includes physicists, geologists, engineers, and others whose interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising the astronomical sciences. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe as a diverse and inclusive astronomical community, which it achieves through publishing, meetings, science advocacy, education and outreach, and training and professional development.
About Big Kid Science
Big Kid Science is your source for fun and scientifically accurate products to educate and inspire. Founded in 2003 by astronomer, teacher, and writer Jeffrey Bennett, Big Kid Science publishes award-winning books for teachers, students, and the public as well as learning activities and resources for children, families, and classroom instructors. The company devotes 100% of its revenue (not only its profits) to a combination of nonprofit donations and free public outreach, including the development of the Totality app.