The LightSound Project


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The LightSound was designed and developed at Harvard University as a tool for the Blind and Low Vision (BLV) community to experience the 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse with sound. The device uses a technique called sonification which is the process of converting light to sound. As the Moon eclipses the Sun during a Solar Eclipse the sunlight begins to dim and the LightSound device output will change in musical tone. The device can be attached to headphones or to a speaker to project the sound for a group. The device is powered by either by a 9V battery, rechargeable Li-ion battery, or by connecting it to a laptop via USB. Data can be collected and saved for later analysis or sonification when the device is connected to a computer.

The device was redesigned for the 2019/2020 South American Solar Eclipses to have a more sensitive light sensor and improved sound quality. Through an IAU 100 special project grant, we built and distributed 20 devices across Chile and Argentina. Chilean colleagues, through an ESO grant, distributed an additional 100+ devices.

Workshops to train users to build and use the LightSound devices were developed and run as part of AAS EPD, IAU OAD, and NSF grants.  We are building several hundred devices to be distributed at no-cost for the upcoming 2023 Annular Solar Eclipse and the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse in North America. Please contact Allyson Bieryla ( with questions or to collaborate.

LightSound - Solar Eclipse Sonification tool

The LightSound is a device developed for the BLV community as a tool to experience the solar eclipse with sound. The device uses arduino technology and has a high dynamic range sensor. It uses midi capabilities to map the data to instruments and produce sound. The device detects light through the light sensor and outputs sound based on the brightness. As the Sun is eclipsed by the Moon the observer will experience the dimming of light as the sound decreases. Instructions for building your own device are listed below along with the software code to upload to the device.

The LightSound device code and instructions to build are below. These are open source but they should not be used to build LightSounds for profit.

Instructions to build

Operation Instructions - (wired 9V battery version | PCB rechargeable battery version)

Recording and Plotting Data - (Instructions | Observing Checklist )

Wiring Diagram

3D case design

GitHub for device code and plotting code

Request a FREE pre-build LightSound device

Join the Discord community server to connect with other LightSound users

LightSound demo clip

Example demo sound clip. The orange case was 3D printed for the 2019/2020 South American eclipses in Chile. The black circle slowly covers the light sensor as a representation of the dimming of the sunlight during the eclipse. Video credit: Paulina Troncoso Iribarren

Preparation for the October 2023 and April 2024 North American Solar Eclipses    

Below is a map of the locations where the LightSound devices have been distributed for the 2023 North American eclipse. Each pin on the map has contact information for each site. This map will continually be updated as devices are delivered and as devices are moved around for the 2024 eclipse.

Upcoming Workshops


Past Workshops

University of Texas, San Antonio - September 2023

Harvard University - July 2023

University of Texas, Austin - June 2023

University of Arizona - April 2023

Rochester Musesum and Science Center - October 2022


South American Solar Eclipses 2019/2020

Below is a map of the locations where the LightSound devices have been distributed for the 2019/2020 South American Eclipse. Each pin on the map has contact information for each site.

Argentina Locations

  1. Colegio Provincial de Santa Lucía, Santa Lucía, San Juan
  2. Municialidad de Calingasta y CASLEO, Calingasta, San Juan
  3. Club de Astronomía Villa Mercedes, San Luis
  4. Escuela Especial Vicenta Castro Cambon, Río IV, Córdoba
  5. Escuela Especial Luciernagas, Río IV, Córdoba
  6. Escuela Especial Dra Cecilia Grierson, Centro de Atención para Discapacitados Auditivos , Rio IV, Córdoba
  7. Centro de Recursos Educativos para Personas con Discapacidad, Córdoba Capital
  8. Instituto Helen Keller, Córdoba Capital
  9. Municipal camping of Villa Cañas, Santa Fe
  10. Escuela Helen Keller, Godoy Cruz, Mendoza
  11. Fac. de Cs. Astronómicas y Geofísicas y Fac. De Arquitectura, La Plata, BsAs

Chile Locations

  1. AstroBVI/U. Antofagasta - Municipalidad de Antofagasta, Antofagasta.
  2. ALMA - Atacama, Chile
  3. NPF/IFA/MAS - Atacama, Chile
  4. GEMINI/CTIO - Coquimbo, Chile
  5. IFA - Valparaíso, Chile
  6. AstroUDP/AstroTactil - Santiago, Chile
  7. MIM - Santiago, Chile
  8. U Autónoma - Planetario Chile - Santiago.
  9. Dedoscopio - Penco, Biobío, Chile
  10. Patricio Antiman - Plaza de Armas de Aysén, Aysén.

Pictures and Comments from the July 2, 2019 Solar Eclipse

Credit: Sóley Hyman

Sound Map

Using data from the LightSound, recorded from locations across South America, a Sound Map traces the path of the eclipse.

Credit: Charlie Doyle

Video and Sound from Argentina

Image Credit: MIM

Santiago, Chile

MIM - Museo Interacivo Mirador

"In Santiago we were fully sunny. In the museum we received more than 5000 people, a lot of them from different organization related with inclusion. The Lightsound device was used during the whole eclipse, every 20% of light change, amplified to all the park.

All the people was excited with the sound of the sunlight, some people complement their own experience looking through telescopes while other touching the tactile books. It was a wonderful inclusion activity."

Sergio Vásquez - Director of Education

Image Credit: Stopwatch Productions

Antofagasta, Chile

Astro BVI/U

"Although Antofagasta was cloudy, we did an event with the Municipality to which you (to our surprise) arrived over 4 thousand people..... there were people constantly making consultras on Lightsound on AstroBVI devices and materials."

Eduardo Unda-Sanzana - Assoc. Prof. University of Antofagasta

Image Credit: La Portada

La Serena, Chile

La Portada

"Today July 2 was a very exciting day, beautiful and unforgettable, enjoying a wonderful event such as a solar eclipse in the stadium "La Portada" (...) and best of all, there was a machine that transformed the light solar in sound when it was getting dark and the moon covered the sun. And when the sun was completely covered by the moon, the machine began to sound lower until there was a small moment of silence. (...) this made the eclipse more inclusive and blind people could enjoy this wonderful event just like everyone else."

Katherine Marchant

Image Credit: Erika Labbe

Santiago, Chile


"We had about 350 people in our event (for space limitations), and I think 50 of them were BVI.."

Erika Labbe - Astronomy Dissemination Coordinator, Diego Portales Univ.

"A great event, wonderful experience, all very well distributed and being able to share something as magnificent as an eclipse with people of little or no vision thanks to the lightsound"

"Excellent initiative to bring people with visual disabilities to science, even more so to such a visual science"

Anonymous visitors

Image Credit: Amelia Bayo

Calle Larga, Chile

Image Credit: CTIO

Gemini/CTIO, Chile

Image Credit: Beatriz Garcia

Rodeo, San Juan, Argentina


Image Credit: Club de Astronomia de Villa Mercedes

Merlo, San Luis, Argentina

International Airport in Merlo

Image Credit: Beatriz Garcia

Godoy Cruz, Mendoza, Argentina

Hellen Keller School

Image Credit: Ana Belén de Alias

Santa Lucía, San Juan, Argentina

Escuela Mucicipal

"The activity went really well, beautiful experience. All impressed by such beauty. We had a great expectation. At the San Luicia school they received guests from the Braile school. The students enjoyed it immensely. They used also the glasses, we also invited some parents to stay. At the time of the totality that lasted 30 seconds, all of the boys were amazed. Total euphoria
Thank you all very much, especially for the possibility of providing the opportunity for blind people to perceive the eclipse."

Ana Belén de Alias - Teacher

Image Credit: Marcelo Colazo, Paula Benaglia

Río IV, Córdoba, Argentina

Vicenta Castro Cambón Special School

"The activity was held at the Vicenta Castro Cambón Special School in the city of Río Cuarto where students, alumni and family members of various educational centers in the city had been invited. After a brief introduction to the topic where the relief and Braile book generated by NASA were also presented, the partial phase of the eclipse began to be observed using dark boxes that had been built by the students and the special glasses provided for this occasion. Already near the moment of totality of the eclipse the LightSound was turned on with which everyone present could hear the most emotional moment of the eclipse."

Marcelo Colazo, Paula Benaglia