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Total Eclipse of the Sun

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On 20 April 2023, Western Australia experienced a rare astronomical event – the Ningaloo Total Solar Eclipse. The Ningaloo region provided the best location for viewing the eclipse, in particular Exmouth which experienced totality – 58 seconds of darkness where the moon fully covered the sun. Thousands of people from Western Australia, around the country and across the globe travelled to Exmouth to witness this phenomenon, while those in Perth could witness a partial solar eclipse with at least 70% totality.

Total Eclipse of the Sun The Ningaloo Total Solar Eclipse had a wide appeal to the broader West Australian community, as well as garnering national and international interest. Consequently, it presented a unique opportunity for Scitech to engage with a wide range of audiences including people who may not normally be interested in STEM topics. Scitech used a cross platform approach to engage audiences in the eclipse including digital, community events, and in the Scitech Discovery Centre. This provided a number of touch points for audiences to engage with the experience and our content.

Scitech partnered with Science Centre Singapore on a livestream event. Singapore was expecting a partial eclipse, but cloud cover was likely to limit their visibility on the day. Our ability to send a team to Exmouth allowed us to provide Singapore’s international audience as well as people across Western Australia direct access to the event.

Scitech Planetarium Coordinator Leon Smith crossed live to Singapore from Exmouth and throughout the almost two-hour livestream was able to provide informative and insightful commentary on the eclipse as well as answer questions from viewers around the world. The livestream was also a collaboration with Gingin Gravity Discovery Centre & Observatory which provided live telescope footage of the eclipse’s progress. The online event was a first for Scitech with the livestream receiving a total of 54,944 views on YouTube, and gave Scitech an exciting opportunity to engage directly with a large international audience.

The event gave Scitech an extraordinary media presence with four radio spots and seven TV news spots, demonstrating Scitech as a trusted STEM source and our ability to communicate and commentate on significant science events.

As part of the Dark Sky Festival in Exmouth, Scitech’s Statewide team delivered a popular activation and shows, with staff reporting people waiting outside for the activation to open, returning across several days, watching shows multiple times and staying the entire day. With more than 4,400 engagements in total across the three days, the highly engaging activation demonstrated how invaluable the experience was for regional audiences who are not often able to access them.

Scitech used a variety of digital platforms to engage people in eclipse content. A dedicated web page on facts about the eclipse and eye safety provided a valuable resource for educators and the general public. Included in a special edition newsletter for Scitech Members were exclusive activities and a colour-in poster custom designed by our Scitech graphics team. Social media engagement was high before and during the Total Solar Eclipse. Facebook and Instagram received multiple tags and mentions from families preparing for the event using the eye safety activities and showing great interest and engagement in the upcoming event. A photo taken by Scitech CEO John Chappell was posted shortly after totality on the day of the eclipse and became one of our most successful posts of all time receiving more than 3000 reactions, 76 comments and 54 shares on Facebook and 323 likes on Instagram.

In the Scitech Discovery Centre visitors enjoyed the curated Planetarium show A Voyage of Discovery, which simulated the Ningaloo Eclipse allowing visitors to learn about the eclipse and experience it both from the ground and in space. From a digital screen, the livestream was shown to visitors watching in the lead up to and during the eclipse’s totality, with many also stepping outside of the City West building to experience the 70% totality. Scitech staff from across the organisation gathered with visitors and shared pinhole viewers and eclipse glasses to ensure everyone could catch a safe glimpse, extending and enhancing the astronomical event experience.

Through a successful cross-platform approach, Scitech engaged thousands of people regardless of their location through a suite of resources in-person and at home via digital. Being part of this event not only provided Scitech with valuable opportunities to extend the STEM experience and increase awareness, but also contribute to an important international event that brought the community together.

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