5000 Years of Total Solar Eclipses: The Movie

  • Released Wednesday, March 13, 2024

This is an animated heatmap showing the density of solar eclipse paths over the Earth during the 5000-year period between 2000 BCE and 3000 CE. It uses the eclipses calculated by Fred Espenak and Jean Meeus and published in 2006 as the Five Millennium Canon of Solar Eclipses. The paths of the 3742 eclipses classified in the Canon as either T (total) or H (hybrid or total-annular) were drawn into a global map. The pixels count the eclipse paths as they are drawn.

See the still image version of this heatmap for more details about the data behind this visualization, including a cautionary note about longitudes. Something pointed out there is that every pixel in the map is eventually painted by at least one shadow path. The animated version can tell us exactly how long that takes: 99% of the pixels are visited as of 91 BCE, 99.9% by 753 CE, and 100% by the year 2577. It takes 19 centuries to fill almost all the pixels but another 27 to catch the stragglers!

An animated heatmap showing the accumulation of total solar eclipse paths over the 5000 years from 2000 BCE to 3000 CE. This version is formatted for Science on a Sphere.

The date key as a sequence of PNG files with transparency.

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NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Release date

This page was originally published on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.
This page was last updated on Friday, March 22, 2024 at 1:01 PM EDT.

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