WHEN EXACTLY WILL THE ECLIPSE HAPPEN? A MULTIMILLENIUM TALE OF COMPUTATION

WIRED | 8/16/2017 | Stephen Wolfram
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On August 21, 2017, there’s going to be a total eclipse of the Sun visible on a line across the US. But when exactly will the solar eclipse occur at a given location? Being able to predict astronomical events has historically been one of the great triumphs of exact science. But in 2017, how well can it actually be done?

Stephen Wolfram is a computer scientist, physicist, and businessman.

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The answer, I think, is well enough that even though the edge of totality moves at just over 1000 miles per hour it should be possible to predict when it will arrive at a given location to within perhaps a second. And as a demonstration of this, we’ve created a website to let anyone enter their geo location (or address) and then immediately compute when the eclipse will reach them—as well as generate many pages of other information.

Days - Eclipse - Wolfram - Language - Function

These days it’s easy to find out when the next solar eclipse will be; indeed built right into the Wolfram Language there’s just a function that tells you (in this form the output is the “time of greatest eclipse”):

It’s also easy to find out, and plot, where the region of totality will be:

Area - Totality - Percent - Area - US

Or to determine that the whole area of totality will be about 16 percent of the area of the US:

But computing eclipses is not exactly a new business. In fact, the Antikythera device from 2000 years ago even tried to do it—using 37 metal gears to approximate the motion of the Sun and Moon (yes, with the Earth at the center). To me there’s something unsettling—and cautionary—about the fact that the Antikythera device stands as such a solitary piece of technology, forgotten but not surpassed for more than 1600 years.

Bottom - Device

But right there on the bottom of the device...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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