total solar eclipse
A total solar eclipse. NASA

If you’ve ever dreamed of being a scientist or working for NASA, your big break is coming this August. NASA is asking ordinary people viewing the total solar eclipse on August 21 to take part in a nation-wide science experiment by recording scientific data of the event to aid in research.

The eclipse offers a unique opportunity for researchers to study how the Earth, and the plants and animals that live on it, reacts to sudden environmental changes caused by the eclipse. The total eclipse will occur in 14 states across the continental United States, causing sudden night-like conditions, and researchers want to gather as much data as possible.

Read: NASA Offers Safety Tips For Viewing Aug 21 Solar Eclipse

The best way for NASA to gather information about the event that will span such a large portion of the country is to crowd source the data collection. To do so NASA has adapted an app, typically used to complement NASA satellite observations, to allow for citizen data collection during the eclipse.

The app is called “Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment,” or GLOBE, and is free to download. It's part of a NASA-funded research program that helps students and citizens take part in scientific research. The app is easy to use and walks users through collecting data in a step-by-step manner. Specifically the app will ask users to collect cloud and air temperature data on the day of the eclipse.

The eclipse will cross the country pretty quickly. It will take just an hour and a half for the shadow to cross from Oregon to South Carolina where it will then head across the Atlantic. During that time when the moon is directly between the sun and the Earth, the total eclipse will occur in 14 states, causing a night-like darkness to come over parts of the country for up to two minutes at a time. While only some states will get the total solar eclipse, all states will get at least a partial eclipse, said NASA.

2017 total eclipse
The path of the Aug. 21, 2017, total eclipse will begin in Oregon and work its way toward South Carolina. NASA

Read: Solar Eclipse 2017: Google Simulator Show What Next Total Eclipse Will Look Like Where You Are

If you want to know what the eclipse will look like where you’ll be on the big day you can use an eclipse simulator created by Google to find out. Even if you’re in an area where the total eclipse isn’t visible, NASA can still use your help. “No matter where you are in North America, whether it’s cloudy, clear or rainy, NASA wants as many people as possible to help with this citizen science project,” said Deputy Coordinator, Kristen Weaver, according to NASA.

The observations that are made and reported through the app will be used to create an interactive map of the eclipse. NASA is hoping that the data might help researchers determine how much cooler conditions get during the eclipse.