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Natural Awakenings National

Hearing a Solar Eclipse

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On April 8, millions of Americans along a 100-mile-wide path across 13 states from Texas to Maine will have an opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse. Thanks to a team from the Harvard University Astronomy Lab, people with visual impairments will be able to experience the celestial event, too, thanks to a smartphone-sized device called LightSound, which translates ambient brightness into sound.

Users of the LightSound device will hear a piping flute for daylight that will transition to a clarinet as the light dims when the moon passes in between the Earth and sun. As the eclipse reaches its zenith, LightSound will emit soft clicks to represent total darkness. The device is designed to complement the multi-sensory event, which may include a drop in temperature and the sounds of nighttime creatures like crickets and owls.

To make astronomy more inclusive, the Harvard team plans to distribute more than 700 LightSound devices at no cost. In addition, the device and its code are open-source so those with the skills can make their own. To learn more, visit

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