100 Days Until Totality! 83 Days Left – The Paths of Solar Eclipses

The way that the Moon’s shadow moves across the Earth can be very different for each eclipse. The paths of totality can vary in shape and size quite drastically. The eclipse in August will have a path of totality with a width of 73 miles. The thickest possible path an eclipse can have is 166 miles. The width of the path of totality is dependent on the apparent size of the Sun and Moon in the sky. An average eclipse can cast its penumbra shadow onto the Earth with a width of about 4000 miles, causing partial solar eclipses over a wide area.

The path of the eclipse moves from West to East across the Earth. The latitudinal and longitudinal locations of the paths on the Earth are determined by the tilt of the Moon’s orbit with respect to the Earth’s ecliptic. Sometimes Syzygy occurs when the New Moon is above the Earth’s ecliptic, and sometimes it happens below the ecliptic. The image on the right shows the eclipse paths on the earth. Note that the curvature of the paths is because the map is flat… and the Earth is not!

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