Get ready for the eclipse with these cool visual guides.
The countdown is on! In less than 30 days, the U.S. will be plunged into darkness as a total solar eclipse passes over the continental U.S. for the first time since 1979.
News outlets around the world are ramping up coverage for the solar eclipse, and data scientists have been creating some really cool visual aids for their stories. In this article, we’ve collected some of the most informative and interesting ones in one place — you’ll be way more informed about the solar eclipse and how to have a great experience after reading this one!
Eclipse Basics Infographic
Space.com produced a super-handy infographic, partially depicted at left, that is a perfect introduction for those not familiar with how solar eclipses work.
They run through some of the important mechanics of how an eclipse occurs, the different types of eclipses, and a map of eclipses produced by NASA (you’ll see a similar, arguably more interesting graphic farther down in this article too).
Solar Eclipse Totality & Duration Map
You’ve probably seen this map, one of the first produced and distributed around the internet. The source, GreatAmericanEclipse.com, has become the preeminent resource for eclipse info and merchandise. In one image, you can quickly see the path of totality, duration of totality, and time of the eclipse. It’s evidence of the “worth a thousand words” idiom.
Partial Eclipse Map
This map, produced by the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles (hence LA being on the map), is slightly more informative than the one above, though the
path of totality and general design is about the same. Larger icons show exactly how much of the eclipse you’ll see in various parts of the U.S., so it’s easy to see how much of the shadow you’ll see depending on your location.
Solar Eclipse Drive Time & Bottlenecks
This map, put out by Great American Eclipse and FiveThirtyEight is super helpful if you plan to travel for the solar eclipse. It shows the path of totality, drive times, and major highways and cities in which you can expect to find traffic or bottlenecks. The short version of this graphic is: arrive early on August 21st, if not the night before!
Solar Eclipse Weather Prediction Maps
The only thing that can ruin a great eclipse? Clouds.
Plenty of data scientists have been studying August weather patterns across the U.S. to try and predict what the weather will be on August 21st. The above map, from NOAA, shows the average cloudiness level on August 21st in various parts of the U.S.
The left image shows average August precipitation, and the right map shows average August cloud cover. Together, they give good evidence that at least half of the U.S. will probably get a good view. The question is whether you (or we) will be in the right place.
Past & Future Eclipse Map
NASA has loads of eclipse maps. This one is the most interesting as it shows how uncommon total solar eclipses are. In the 25-years depicted above, there are only 16 total solar eclipses. Only two will touch the contiguous U.S. during that window (the next one in 2024). It further underscores how rare and exciting this eclipse is!