Is Your City in the Path of the Total Eclipse?


There will be a total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, and the umbra (total shadow) will pass right across the United States! As a data guy, a map guy, and an astronomy fan, this is an opportunity I just couldn't pass up! Follow along as I apply my computer skills to my astronomy interests, in total geek fashion!

But before we get started, here is a picture from one of my fellow geek friends, David H. He's a smidgen older than I am, and was old enough to appreciate the eclipse that passed over NC in 1970. Here's what he said about his picture and the event: "Observing the lead-up to totality at the Kinston Airport in March of 1970. Several of us from NCSU's WKNC and The Technician had driven down to see it. I had made solar filters out of exposed black and white film and attached them in front of my binoculars! There were thousands of people at the airport from all over the country. Many had flown in in their airplanes (of ALL sizes) to view it. At the moment of totality, as we all saw the eclipsed sun and its corona, ALL of of us made a soft collective "Ohhhhhh" sound. I'll never forget that moment!"

And now, let's get ready for the upcoming eclipse! For starters, I wanted to show the path of the eclipse on a map. I did a few Google searches, and soon found that NASA had a webpage where they provided Esri shapefiles of the eclipse path. I downloaded their shapefiles, and used SAS Proc Mapimport to import the upath17.shp file (umbra path for 2017 eclipse) into a SAS dataset. I converted this into an annotate dataset, and plotted it on a US map using SAS Proc GMap.

I thought it would also be interesting to figure out exactly which cities were in the umbra, so I pretended the umbra polygon was a map area, and used SAS Proc Ginside to determine which city centroids (from the sashelp.zipcode dataset) were 'inside' it. I then added those cities to the map.

Once I had a list of all the cities, it was also easy to calculate a list of all the states in the eclipse umbra. I used that list of states as my response data in Proc GMap, and plotted the map again with those states in a slightly brighter color than the other states. Now, for example, it's easier to tell that Iowa and Indiana have no cities in the umbra of the eclipse.


We now have a pretty nice map (click through to see an interactive version), but I still can't tell exactly which cities are in the path. I could add HTML mouse-over text, but the cities are packed in so densely that it would be very difficult to hover your mouse over a specific city. So I decided to add drilldowns to the map! Click this link to an interactive version of the above map and then you can click any of the states in the path to see a detailed map of just that state. In the state map, you can hover your mouse over the cities and see their names and click the cities to see an animation of the eclipse along with clock/time info to let you know exactly when the eclipse will be visible (I didn't create the animation -- credit to Berkeley and Google for that part!)

Here's a snapshot of the drilldown map for Tennessee, showing the mouse-over info

Are you one of the lucky people living in the path of the eclipse? Or are you perhaps planning to travel to see it? Have you witnessed a solar eclipse in the past? Feel free to share your 'eclipse story' in a comment!

Robert Allison, The Graph Guy!, SAS

Robert Allison has worked at SAS for more than 20 years and is perhaps the foremost expert in creating custom graphs using SAS/GRAPH. His educational background is in computer science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from North Carolina State University. He is the author of several conference papers, has won a few graphic competitions, and has written a book calledSAS/GRAPH: Beyond the Basics.

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Re: Links
  • 8/16/2017 1:55:46 PM
NO RATINGS

I bought some of those $2 glasses to watch the partial eclipse in my area. I even blocked out time on my work calendar to make sure I don't schedule anything for that short period... that's as far as I go.

I have seen a lot of watch parties advertised locally. I wonder how many will attend.

Re: Links
  • 8/16/2017 7:59:27 AM
NO RATINGS

I'm still not all that eager for next Monday when all the hype comes to a conclusion and for a small number of people, they'll see the eclipse through their special glasses for a couple of minutes. Understandably lots of companies in the tourism business and $2 cardboard glasses businesses  will pick up some extra profits, and communities will see some increase in vistiors. But, it does seem we'll all go outside anyway for at least a partial eclipse view no matter where we are.

Re: Links
  • 8/14/2017 1:41:36 PM
NO RATINGS

I've wondered the same for these areas. A lot of folks are travelling to see the total eclipse. 

I didn't enjoy watching a partial eclipse on an index card when I was a kid. It would have been much better to have special viewing glasses back then... 

Re: Links
  • 8/14/2017 8:49:18 AM
NO RATINGS

I think it would be interesting to see what the tourist influx is in some of these cities.  I wonder how many of them are aware of the path and doing some advertising/marketing right now.

The VR option sounds like a great idea and I'll probably watch that way.  I remember a couple partial eclipses as a kid that we were told not to look at and given some index cards that we punched a hole in so that we could watch the shadow on the cards.  A live streamed version sounds more visually appealing than the old fashioned way of watching. 

 

Re: Nice value add
  • 8/13/2017 2:43:46 AM
NO RATINGS

I believe this total eclipse is rare because it will only be seen in the United States.  astrologers are buzzing about what it could mean  The last one happened 99 years ago.

Re: Links
  • 8/11/2017 7:33:03 PM
NO RATINGS

@impactnow Oh, yes, there's a site devoted to this with the name "Eclipse of the Centur" at cnn.com/specials/vr/total-solar-eclipse-2017/ Volvo partnered with the media outlet for this, a subject I wrote about for a marketing article.

Re: Links
  • 8/11/2017 7:04:27 PM
NO RATINGS

Ariella I never thought of the VR alternative what an interesting option!

Re: Links
  • 8/11/2017 11:59:59 AM
NO RATINGS

Original works as expected. I can see each state and the city names are available when I hold the mouse over the dots.

Thanks!

Re: Links
  • 8/11/2017 11:06:45 AM
NO RATINGS

I already knew my city is nowhere near the path, as I am in the NE. I do know of some people planning to travel to a city that is in the path. For the rest of us, there is to be live coverage with 360 degree and VR cameras.

Re: Links
  • 8/10/2017 6:53:14 PM
NO RATINGS

Try my original blog. I didn't set up the allanalytics version, so I'm not sure how the links were set up there. If you find a problem in my original, let me know and I'll try to fix them:

http://blogs.sas.com/content/sastraining/2017/08/02/is-your-city-in-the-path-of-the-total-eclipse/

 

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