Solar Eclipse Weather Project
Author: Bill Kramer
Last update: Thursday, 29-Dec-2016 10:28:40 EST

Science Club Project

Disciplines: Astronomy, Electronics, Physics, Weather

Solar Eclipse Experiment - Energy from the Sun

During a solar eclipse the Moon obscures the Sun reducing the energy we receive. This experiment can be done anywhere an eclipse is visible; it does not have to be a total solar eclipse (although that is the most interesting to see).

Equipment needed:

  • Solar Panel (Battery). Almost any size will work.
  • Volt meter. (Digital is best)
  • Notepad.

Set up

Connect the solar panel to the voltmeter so that you can read the voltage output from the panel. Most voltmeters include a set of leads (wires) that can be clipped to the positive and negative terminals of a power source such as a solar panel.

Test your set up in the days ahead of time. Record the following information.

  • Size (area) of solar panel.
  • Maximum voltage output (clear sunny day).
  • Minimum voltage reading on a cloudy day.

Practice for eclipse day.

Observe the voltage through out a day (or more). Record the value every hour or so from sunrise until sunset.

Predictions and Preparations

What are your thoughts regarding the following questions. Will the amount of power recorded during the eclipse be a direct relation to the area of the Sun obscured? How will this relationship appear if graphed?

Find out (or calculate) when the solar eclipse will be visible in your area.

Determine a meeting area for the science club to conduct the experiement.

A school parking lot or yard is recommended. Ask the principal if the school can be opened to allow access to the rest rooms.

Eclipse day.

Observe the voltage an hour or two before the eclipse starts through the end of the eclipse. Record the weather as clear, partly clouded, cloudy, raining with each voltage observation. Even if there are clouds, you should be able to register some power.

If you are lucky enough to be in the path of totality, take only one measurement during the total phase. Spend the rest of the time looking and photographing!

Create a chart showing power output recorded. Did it follow the predicted curvature? If not, why?

Looking for more weather related experiment ideas? Click here.

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