Flying Around The 2024 Eclipse Shadow

  • Released Monday, November 13, 2023
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The virtual camera flies from the night side of the Earth and Moon to the day side, revealing the path of the Moon's shadow during the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse. Includes narration by the visualizer.

Music provided by Universal Production Music: “ Bright Determination” – Julien Vonarb

This video can also be viewed on the NASA Goddard YouTube channel.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, allowing the Moon's long, thin shadow to intersect the Earth's surface. The shadow comprises two concentric cones called the umbra and the penumbra. Observers on the Earth who are within the smaller, central umbra see the Sun completely blocked. Within the larger penumbra, the Sun is only partially blocked.

In this visualization, the Earth, Moon, Sun, and shadow cones are viewed through a telescopic lens on a virtual camera. Long focal lengths like the one used here appear to compress the distance between near and far objects. Despite appearances, the geometry of the scene is to scale. The Moon's umbra cone is roughly 30 Earth diameters long, barely enough to reach the Earth, while the Sun is both 400 times larger than the Moon and 400 times farther away.

The virtual camera flies from the night side of the Earth and Moon to the day side, revealing the path of the Moon's shadow during the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse. The umbra sweeps across the surface at more than 1500 miles (2400 kilometers) per hour along the path of totality, shown in red. The shadow would move even faster if the Earth weren't rotating in the same direction. The shadow tracks the west-to-east motion of the Moon in its orbit.

The outline of the penumbra is shown in purple, and the northern and southern edges of the path it sweeps out are drawn in yellow. This shows the part of the Earth where people will see at least a partial eclipse. Orange loops at either end of the eclipse path are sunrise and sunset lines, points on the Earth where the eclipse either begins or ends at sunrise or sunset.

The umbra is over land for just an hour and forty minutes before moving into the North Atlantic and then skipping off the edge of the Earth.



Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Release date

This page was originally published on Monday, November 13, 2023.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at 12:16 AM EDT.


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