Home Tech What’s the Best Place to Watch the Solar Eclipse? This Simulator Can Help You Plan

What’s the Best Place to Watch the Solar Eclipse? This Simulator Can Help You Plan

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What's the Best Place to Watch the Solar Eclipse? This Simulator Can Help You Plan

A total solar energy The solar eclipse comes to North America on April 8. The Great North American Eclipse, as it is also known, will be visible in 13 US states, plus parts of Mexico and eastern Canada. But it won’t look the same for everyone.

For those living on the path of totality – the projection of the moon’s shadow onto the Earth’s surface – the celestial event will undoubtedly bring delight. For everyone else, experiencing the total solar eclipse will require extensive planning… which, if you’re organized, should have already happened, but let’s be honest, that probably didn’t happen.

For example, I was considering Lexington, Kentucky, as my viewing location. I had read that the eclipse there would be ‘deeply partial’, but having never witnessed an eclipse before, I wasn’t sure if that was good enough. My search to find out led me to a handy solution solar eclipse simulator which allows users to visualize what the April solar eclipse will look like from any city, mountain peak or deserted plot of land in the Northern Hemisphere. To stimulate your imagination as you ‘try out’ different locations, the simulator allows you to choose one of more than 50 landscapes that match the atmosphere you are looking for: a city skyline, a snow-capped mountain range or a peaceful lakeside more. You can drag a slider on a timeline and watch the sun and moon slide across your screen until they become one as the sky turns a dusky shade of blue.

The tool, which is based on ancient astronomical calculations and modern data, was built by Dan McGlaun, a retired mathematician from Purdue University and a self-described nerd who has been hunting eclipses since he was 10. So far, McGlaun has witnessed 15 eclipses from incongruous places like airplanes and cruise ships. “I went to Kenya for an 11-second eclipse and it was the best day of my life,” he says.

The solar eclipse simulator is a side feature of McGlaun’s main website, where he sells Eclipse safety glasses. (These protective shades are an absolute must if you plan to look at the sky during the eclipse.) But it only takes a minute on the phone with McGlaun to understand that the simulator is an absolute labor of love and that the goggles exist a company to finance this.

In 2017, McGlaun built a smartphone app This allowed people to choose an eclipse viewing location on a map of the US to find out if their chosen spot was in the path of totality for the solar eclipse in August of that year. Now he has furthered his efforts to “evangelize eclipses” by building a more complex simulator, this one with an educational slant.

It took me less than a minute of tinkering to figure out that I wouldn’t be spending April 8 in Lexington, Kentucky, for the simple reason that a partial solar eclipse — no matter how “deep” — wasn’t nearly as impressive as the total solar eclipse I saw . (on my screen) in places like Dallas, Texas or Mazatlan, Mexico.

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