Where will you be for the 2023 and 2024 Solar Eclipses in the United States?
NASA has released a new map that could help you decide.
Based on observations from various NASA missions, the map details the path of the Moon’s shadow as it crosses the contiguous US during the annular solar eclipse on October 14, 2023 and the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.
These dark trails across the continent show where observers should be to see the “ring of fire” when the Moon blocks all but the Sun’s outer edge during the annular eclipse and the ghostly-white outer atmosphere of the Sun (the corona) when the Moon completely blocks the Sun’s disk during a total eclipse.
Outside of these paths, the map also shows where and how much the Sun will be partially eclipsed by the Moon. On both dates, all 48 contiguous states in the US will experience at least a partial solar eclipse (as will Mexico and most of Canada).
Reading the map
In NASA’s new eclipse map, the paths for the annular and total eclipses appear as dark zones in the US
Anyone in the path of the annular eclipse, from Oregon to Texas, will have a chance to see the annular eclipse if the sky is clear. Anyone in the path of the total eclipse, from Texas to Maine, will have a chance to see the total eclipse, weather permitting.
Within these dark paths are oval shapes with times in them (yellow ovals for the annular eclipse, purple ovals for the total eclipse). These ovals show the shape of the Moon’s shadow cast on the Earth’s surface at the times shown. People in the areas inside the ovals will see the annular or total eclipse at that time.
For locations near the center of the paths, the annular or total eclipse will last longer than those near the outer edges of the path. Within each path are white lines that indicate how long the annular or totality will last. For the ring path of the eclipse, you can find tags (ranging from 3 to 4.5 minutes) near the Nevada-Utah border in the north and between San Antonio and Corpus Christi, Texas, in the south. For the path of totality, you can find tags near Presque Isle, Maine, to the north and between the ovals CST from 2:20 to 2:25 p.m. in Mexico in the south.
Viewers in locations outside the paths will not experience a total solar eclipse or an annular eclipse, but may still see a partial eclipse. The lines running parallel to each path indicate how much of the Sun will be covered by the Moon during the partial eclipse. For the annular eclipse, these lines appear faintly yellow. For the total eclipse, it is faint purple. Percent labels for annular eclipse lines appear along the left and top edges of the map. Percentage labels for the total eclipse appear along the bottom and right edges of the map. (Hint: Percentages appear at the same angles as lines.)
But no eclipse will be limited to the contiguous US. In the lower right corner of the NASA map, a globe shows the full paths for both eclipses. The annular eclipse (in yellow and black) spans Mexico, Central America, and South America. The total eclipse (in purple and black) also crosses Mexico and northeastern Canada. The shaded zones (yellow for the annular eclipse and purple for the total eclipse) also show where a partial eclipse can be seen. For example, in October 2023, southeast Alaska will experience a partial eclipse, while Hawaii will have a chance to see a partial eclipse in April 2024.
Making the map
Michala Garrison, a member of the Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, applied her background in geography and cartography to design the map, integrating information from various NASA sources.
Earth elevation information came from the Shuttle Radar Topography mission, while maps of the Moon’s shape were provided by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The positions of the sun, moon, and Earth were found using software and data from NASA’s Navigation and Intelligence Unit. Garrison’s SVS colleague Ernie Wright used all this information to calculate the position and shape of the Moon’s shadow.
NASA’s Blue Marble—a global mosaic of satellite images assembled by NASA’s Earth Observatory team—brought color to earth. And one particularly unique feature Garrison thought he’d add to the path of the 2024 total eclipse was nighttime images of Earth from NASA’s Black Marble — which shows city lights on the night side of the planet as imaged by the Suomi NPP spacecraft .
One of Garrison’s goals for the map was to inspire people to hit the paths of annular and total eclipses, something they didn’t do the last time the Moon’s shadow crossed the continental US.
“In 2017 I was in Maryland, so I still had a little bit to see because I was in a partial eclipse,” he said. “But I didn’t know any of that back then. It makes me want to go to, say, Albuquerque in 2023. And then in 2024 to go further south.”
Garrison worked through several revisions to try to make the map both aesthetic and practical, to help people both on and off the trails plan for the eclipse experience.
“It took a lot of trial and error. I wanted it to be helpful to the reader, but not overwhelming—and to be a beautiful product to catch people’s eyes.”
Provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Reference: New NASA map details 2023 and 2024 US solar eclipses (2023, March 8) Retrieved March 9, 2023, from https://phys.org/news/2023-03-nasa-solar-eclipses.html
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