NASA Moon Data Provides More Accurate 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Path

Posted: Jan 6 2017, 7:16am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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NASA Moon Data Provides More Accurate 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Path
A map of the United States showing the path of totality for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. Credits: NASA/Goddard/SVS/Ernie Wright

NASA gets successful, making accurate path for 2017 total solar eclipse that will happen in late August

AUG 21 2017 will give US people a view of solar eclipse, and at that time Moon’s shadow will travel from Oregon to South Carolina. Totality, the moon’s shadow path will be a spot where the sky watchers will see moon completely cover the sun. Maps are derived from NASA’s data from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, coupled with detailed NASA topography data of Earth.

Creation of the early map

Scientists have been using eclipse maps to draw moon’s shadow path when it crosses earth. Scientists still use the old map making technique developed by Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel and William Chauvenet, two prominent 19th century astronomers and mathematicians. In that time the scientists did not have computers for precise data as they have today.

On traditional level, eclipse calculations are based on an assumption that the observers are at sea level, and moon is in a symmetrical sphere form. These calculations don’t consider different elevations on the earth, and uneven surface of moon.

This map shows a detailed image of the Moon's umbral shadow as it passes over the United States during the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. Credits: NASA/Goddard/SVS/Ernie Wright

Scientists use elevations and lunar limb plots to make accurate maps. Till Now the astronomers used 1963s limb profiles developed by Astronomer Chester Burleigh Watts for creating totality. Watts captured 700 pictures of moon through a machine. The pictures were taken from different angles from the earth. Now the eclipse calculations are more accurate due to data taken from LRO observations.

After using LRO elevations, NASA visualizer Ernie Wright at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, developed a lunar limb profile when the moon’s shadow passes over the US, as it will happen during the 2017 eclipse. Totality’s duration is effected by mountains along moon’s edge.

NASA scientists have developed an accurate lunar limb for the first time, said Wright.

On Monday Aug. 21, 2017 the solar eclipse will cross US starting from Oregon, and will end in South Carolina. Previous solar eclipse in the US happened in 1918 when totality entered Washington passing over Denver, Colorado, Jackson, Mississippi, and Orlando, and Florida.

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