Solar Eclipse of 2017 Boosted Science Interest

By Karen Hopkin on August 14, 2018

The Michigan Scientific Literacy Survey of 2017 found that last year's total solar eclipse got Americans more interested in celestial science.

Full Transcript

Where were you on August 21, 2017? If you’re like me—and a couple hundred million other Americans—you were watching the total eclipse of the sun.

1. couple ['kʌp(ə)l] n. two or a few things that are similar or the same, or two or a few people who are in some way connected(相似或相同事物的)一对,一双,几个;(有某种联系之人的)一对,几个

e.g. The doctor said my leg should be better in a couple of days.


A couple of people objected to the proposal,

but the vast majority approved of it.


2.eclipse[ɪ'klɪps] n. 日食,月食

solar eclipse/eclipse of the sun 日食

lunar eclipse/eclipse of the moon 月食

total solar eclipse 日全食

total lunar eclipse月全食

It was breathtaking. Mind-blowing. Awesomely spectacular. And potentially educational. Because a new study shows that folks who saw the celestial event sought information on solar eclipses about 16 times both before and after the big day.

1. mind-blowing /ˈmaɪndˌbloʊ.ɪŋ/ adj

extremely exciting or surprising 令人印象深刻的;令人惊奇的

e.g. The special effects in this film are pretty mind-blowing.


2. spectacular/spɛkˈtæk.jə.lɚ/  adj.

very exciting to look at 壮观的,壮丽的;令人惊叹的

a spectacular view  蔚为壮观的景象

e.g.He scored a spectacular goal in the second half.


There was a spectacular sunset last night.


3. celestial /səˈlɛstʃəl/ adj

of or from the sky or outside this world 天的,天空的;天外的

celestial bodies (=the Sun, Moon, stars etc) 天体

e.g. The moon is a celestial body.月亮是天体中的一员。

In the U.S., some 216 million adults viewed the eclipse. That’s 88 percent of the adult population. This viewership dwarfs that of the Superbowl and ranks among the most watched events in American history. That’s according to the Michigan Scientific Literacy Survey of 2017.

1. viewership/ˈvjuəʃɪp/n.收视率,观众人

viewership falls/declines/goes down收视率下降

viewership increases/jumps/goes up 收视率上升

2. dwarf /dwɔrf/  Vt. If one thing dwarfs another, it makes it seem small by comparison.


The new skyscraper will dwarf all those near it.新建的摩天大楼会让周围的建筑都显得很矮小。

This new crisis may well dwarf most that have gone before.这场新的危机可能比以往的大多数危机都严重得多。

pale in comparison 相形见绌

e.g. I thought I was badly treated but my experiences pale in comparison with yours.



Jon Miller of the University of Michigan conducts a national study of Americans’ scientific know-how twice a year. But last year, he added another survey over the week or two after the eclipse, while the experience was still fresh.He discovered that in the months prior to the eclipse, there was a flurry of interest in the phenomenon. People searched online for eclipse-related information and talked about it with family and friends.

1. prior to sth  /praɪr/ adj [before noun]

before a particular time or event在…之前

e.g. the weeks prior to her death她死之前的几个星期

2.  a flurry of

a sudden, short period of activity, excitement, or interest 一阵忙乱(或激动,关注)

e.g. The prince's words on marriage have prompted a flurry of speculation in the press this week.本周王子就结婚问题所说的话引起新闻界一片猜测。

a flurry of activity一阵忙乱

And the nearly 20 million who traveled to see the eclipse were even more hungry for heavenly knowledge, averaging nearly 25 episodes of eclipse-related information seeking. In comparison, those who for whatever reason missed the event only reported reading or chatting about it six times.

heavenly /ˈhɛvənli/adj.

a. of heaven天堂的,神圣的

a heavenly light天堂之光

heavenly music圣乐

our heavenly Father (= God)

b. giving great pleasure无比美好的

e.g. It was a good party and the food was heavenly.


But the interest didn’t end with the sun’s reappearance. After the event, people kept on reporting online-learning and continued conversations.

[Jon D. Miller, Americans and the 2017 Eclipse A final report on public viewing of the August total solar eclipse]

Miller’s survey also indicates that by the end of 2017, 70 percent of those questioned were able to explain the meaning of a total solar eclipse. That’s a considerable step up from the 50 percent who understood what an eclipse was at the beginning of the year. Even people who didn’t see the eclipse were more likely to correctly define it by year's end, suggesting that the media coverage and general hubbub rubbed off.

1.hubbub /ˈhʌb.ʌb/ n.

A. a loud noise, especially caused by a lot of people all talking at the same time(很多人同时说话时产生的)喧嚷,喧闹

e.g. I could hardly hear myself speak above all the hubbub in the bar.在喧嚷的酒吧间里,我几乎听不见自己的声音。

B. general excitement and activity 纷乱,嘈杂

e.g.  Once the hubbub of the election had died down, it was back to normal for the president.一旦选举之事尘埃落定,对于总统来说一切就恢复正常了

2.rubbed off

If a quality or characteristic that someone has rubs off, other people begin to have it because they have been with that person and learned it from them.


e.g. His enthusiasm is starting to rub off on the rest of us.他的热情开始感染到我们所有人。

However, the eclipse mania did not appear to boost our overall understanding of the relationship of the Earth and the sun. The percentage of respondents who knew that the Earth circles the sun once each year remained essentially unchanged, at around 64 percent. These findings should give science communicators added incentive to get the word out before the next big North American eclipse: April 8, 2024.

1.mania /ˈmeɪ.nɪə/ n. a very strong interest in something that fills a person's mind or uses up all their time狂热;热衷

e.g. So why your sudden mania for exercise?