When depicting an eclipse path, data visualizers have usually chosen to represent the moon's shadow as an oval. By bringing in a variety of NASA data sets, visualizer Ernie Wright has created a new and more accurate representation of the eclipse. For the first time, we are able to see that the moon's shadow is better represented as a polygon. This more complicated shape is based NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's view of the mountains and valleys that form the moon's jagged edge. By combining moon's terrain, heights of land forms on Earth, and the angle of the sun, Wright is able to show the eclipse path with the greatest accuracy to date.
This animation closely follows the Moon's umbra shadow as it passes over the United States during the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. Through the use of a number of NASA datasets, notably the global elevation maps from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the shape and location of the shadow is depicted with unprecedented accuracy.