On August 21st, 2017 a solar eclipse will sweep a path across the continental US crossing through Salem, Oregon to Columbia, South Carolina. The total eclipse will cross the country at an average speed of 740 meters per second (1657 miles per hour). It will only be visible along a narrow band running across the US, where the moon’s shadow blocks the sun. The Bunker Interns, empowered with STK set out to model and determine the ideal places to watch.
In order to show the total solar eclipse path, a coverage definition is defined using an area target of the continental United States. The coverage definition used in the images has a grid granularity of 100 km^2 and was smoothed with five interpolation points per grid space. To track the total eclipse, an access calculation is performed between all coverage definition grid points and an always visible geosynchronous satellite located over the United States. As we would like to view the total solar eclipse path, we restrict access between the satellite and the coverage grid to times of umbra (darkness). By applying an umbra constraint, access is restricted to the solar eclipse shadow period.
A figure of merit object is used to visualize the access results. Success is defined as a successful access between grid point and satellite during a time of darkness. Below, the figure of merit displays a static animation bound to an eclipse duration scale. Areas of red experience approximately 10 seconds of darkness, while areas of blue experience up to almost 3 minutes of darkness. Additionally, in the above image a dynamic animation turns the coverage area black during a time of success, thus you can observe the solar eclipse crossing the United States when animated.
Let’s dive into the Eclipse Times Report included within STK. Our Boulder, Colorado based Bunker member plans to travel to Casper, Wyoming to view the eclipse. This small mountain west town experiences 220 days of sunshine per year making it an ideal choice for watching the solar eclipse. Below, STK has been used to generate an Eclipse Times report for Casper, Wyoming. Casper will experience approximately 2 ½ minutes of complete eclipse with a few hours of partial eclipse occurring on either side of the complete eclipse. The complete eclipse will begin in Casper at 11:43:25 AM MST. Feeling really adventurous? The solar eclipse will capture both Grand Teton and Gannett Peak in its path, two of the highest points in Wyoming.