Wonderful Precision

In Astronomy by Brian Koberlein1 Comment

On August 21 of 2017 the shadow of the Moon will trace a path across the United States. It’s a total solar eclipse that many will have the opportunity to observe. But whether you will observe totality or not depends on where you are. Astronomers have been able to predict the path of solar eclipses for millennia, but this new video demonstrates just how precise our predictions have become. 

The video combines lunar terrain data with that of the Earth’s terrain and the predicted positions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun. Data collected from a variety of sources and combined to create an extremely accurate prediction of the 2017 eclipse. Much of this data is publicly available, so you could do your own calculations as well.

If you have a chance to see this eclipse (or any solar eclipse) take it. We already know where you need to be to see it. The only other factor is to ensure a clear sky, but when we get within a few days of the eclipse we’ll have that prediction as well.


  1. Wonderful Precision caught my eye because, as an experimentalist, I question the measurement of temperature to a hundredth of a degree or the need to do so. However, in the case of astronomy I have read that poor precision was the reason that Tyco Brahe began his precise naked-eye observations which allowed Robert Kepler to discover three scientific laws which described (defined) the motions of planets about the sun.

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