Solar eclipse simulator

eclipseThis project originally started because I was bored and thought I could make some prettier graphics than the ones at Wikipedia. But as this stuff usually does, it turned out to be more complex than initially thought, and became a nice experiment that taught me quite a bit about practical astronomy, geographical databases and modern web development.

It is actually quite crazy what sorts of variables you have to consider to accurately model solar eclipses. There are the obvious factors like the ellipticity of orbits, but even smaller ones like Earth’s flattened shape, or the fact that the Earth’s rotation is speeding up because of the last Ice Age’s effects play a huge role and will make your calculations be off by kilometers if they aren’t considered.

Luckily NASA was nice enough to publish their tables of the finished calculations so after a bit of reading up on the interpretation of the data it was quite easy to develop this into a nice looking web app.

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