What the 2017 Great American Eclipse taught us about effective science communication (126)

Tony Rice, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Cary, North Carolina



According to NASA, the 2017 total solar eclipse which swept from Oregon to South Carolina shattered records for online viewers and was the most watched eclipse in history with about half the US population looking up according to a CNN poll.

It was also a rare opportunity for scientific engagement with the public. Following years of preparations invested to set appropriate expectationsand ensure safety, how did we do?

We'll review lessons learned from the eclipse that can help us improve communications about temporal and regional events safety in general. We will celebrate what went right to build on it in 2023 and 2024. More importantly, we'll identify what went wrong in communicating this well-anticipated event with little uncertainty and how this can be applied to severe weather events built out of uncertainty.