2017-06-16 / Neighbors

Online simulator gives first look at August’s eclipse

Want a sneak preview of what August’s solar eclipse will look like over your part of the United States? Now there’s a simulator for that.

A team at the UC Berkeley Space Science Laboratory teamed up with Google to create an online simulator that shows the view of the eclipse from any location.

To check out the simulator, visit https://eclipsemega.movie/simulator.

Visitors to the website simply plug in the name of their city or their ZIP code to launch an animation showing how the sun’s light will be blocked by the moon as the sun moves across the sky over a three-hour period, sped up 1,000 to 4,000 times.

“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,” said Dan Zevin, who is with the team leading the project at UC Berkeley.

“Our simulation is closer to what one might experience in a planetarium show,” Zevin said.

Excitement has been building for months over what many are calling “The Great American Eclipse.” A Google search for “eclipse 2017” brings up 57.7 million results.

People in a 72-mile-wide swath that stretches across 11 states—from Oregon to South Carolina (but not California)— will have the best views of the total eclipse Aug. 21.

Within that so-called path of totality, the sun will go nearly completely dark as the moon passes directly in front of it in the sky.

The Berkeley lab’s simulator shows the eerily darkening sky that eclipse fanatics travel around the world to experience, Zevin said.

The laboratory is also heading up the Eclipse Megamovie 2017 project, asking those in the path of totality to provide the lab with photos of the event.

Researchers plan to stitch together more than 1,000 photos of the eclipse to help them better understand the phenomenon.

Hector Gonzalez

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