Total solar eclipse 2024: This is how the blind can enjoy the phenomenon

When eclipse watchers look toward the sky, the blind or visually impaired people you will be able to hear and feel the celestial event.

Sound and touch devices will be available at public meetings on April 8when a total solar eclipse crosses North America and the Moon hides the Sun for a few minutes.

“Eclipses are very beautiful things and everyone should be able to experience them once in their lifetime,” said Yuki Hatch, a high school senior in Austin, Texas.

Hatch is also a visually impaired student and space enthusiast who hopes to one day be a computer scientist for NASA. On the day of the eclipse, she and her colleagues at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired plan to sit in the school's grassy courtyard and listen to a small device known as a LightSound boxwhich translates light changes into sounds.

When the sun shinedelicate high and flute notes will be heard. When the Moon begins to cover the sun, the mid-range notes will be those of a clarinet. The Darkness will be represented by a low clicking sound.

“I'm excited to actually be able to hear the eclipse instead of seeing it,” Hatch said.

The LightSound device is the result of a collaboration between Wanda Díaz-Merced, a blind astronomer, and Harvard astronomer Allyson Bieryla. Puerto Rican Díaz-Merced often converts her data to audio to analyze patterns for her research.

A prototype was used for the first time in 2017 during the total solar eclipse that crossed the United States, and the portable device has been used in other eclipses.

This year, they are working with other institutions with the goal of distribute at least 750 devices to venues that will host events in Mexico, United States and Canada. They organized workshops at universities and museums to teach how to make the devices and on the group's website there are instructions so that people themselves can build them.