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A Total Solar Eclipse Gets Even Cooler: Check Out the Simulator

Jun 28, 2017 09:12 AM EDT
Total Solar Eclipse
Saadi fidel
(Photo : Flickr)

If you're in certain parts of the US on August 21, you're in for a treat. A total solar eclipse will be passing over the country from coast to coast, the first in 99 years. 

As if the eclipse itself weren't cool enough, the Eclipse Megamovie Project has established a simulator that allows you to see what the eclipse will be like from any given location. Other details include what time to watch from a given location, an animation of moon obstructing the sun's light, and the darkening of the sky for folks who are in a direct line with the eclipse.

Check it out here.

Project leader Dan Sevin said, "There are lots of online animations of the 2017 Eclipse, but you can't use them like ours to get a sense of the full experience, including your surroundings. Our simulation is closer to what one might experience in a planetarium show."

What's more, the project has a tool that allows you to optimize your "total solar eclipse experience."

Not everyone will get to see the darkening of the sky. Only selected states including Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina will get the full effect.

Jay Pasachoff, an advisor on the project, explained, "If you are off to the side -- even just a little bit where the Sun is not 100 percent covered by the Moon -- it is like being in the parking lot of the stadium during the Super Bowl but not really inside seeing the game."

The project is asking astronomers and photographers to capture the eclipse, whose band will span 72 miles wide. With this in mind, they hope to document the eclipse in its totality by piecing together the images and videos.

"While no one on the ground will see the total eclipse for more than two minutes and 40 seconds, depending on how close they are to the center of the path of totality, the images collected by the Megamovie's volunteer team will be turned into a 90-minute eclipse movie unlike anything seen before," said a member of the team.

This project is not only visually cool, it will also help scientific research by aiding scientists in mapping the location of the sun. "The movie is a tool for scientific exploration," said astronomer Hugh Hudson. "We'll be collecting this level of data for the first time, from millions of observers, and it will be a valuable archive...we don't know what we'll see or what we'll learn."

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