Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Countries in the Log

At the request of several eclipse chasers I added a new field to the database. Now one can add in the nationality (optional) which appears as a little flag next to the chaser in the eclipse summary list. At the end of the summary list, a list of the nations represented is presented.

To add your country, log in to edit your eclipse history. Next select a country (pop up list at bottom of eclipses logged) and save the update. That is all there is to it!

Thus far the entries updated clearly show the international interest in solar eclipses. Due to the fact that the web site is currently only available in English the majority of countries represented are either English speaking or have an educational system where the English language is commonly taught. Even so, there is quite a spread around the world!

Check out the eclipse chasers list!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Another update to the log program

I have been taking care of a few details here and there in the eclipse log programs. One of them that has bothered me is that the eclipse calculator did not take into account the sunrise and sunset cut off times when calculating cumulative shadow durations. The time between C1 and C4 was always used. Seemed wrong and so I fixed it. Now if the eclipse takes place near sunrise and sunset the time calculation for the accumulated shadow duration is modified.
Degrees above/below horizon shown. Sunset time used to calculate duration of shadow time.

This only makes a difference if you are tracking that number. Keep in mind that I am still not adding flight calculations into the logs and that makes a significant different.

Oh, by the way, I added a new cartoon to the collection related to the following:


Monday, 9 October 2017

Search changes after the eclipse

One of the advantages of being webmaster is that I get to see the results of the web logs that track usage of the domain. In those logs are the search words used to locate the web site by tools such as Yahoo or Google. There are some interesting trends that I'd like to share.

First it is really interesting to see how many searches took place relative to the rest of the month. The rate of hits increased dramatically as the eclipse day came and went. The chart below shows web traffic for the month. It should be noted that I did no promotion, no sales, and just let the search engines do their thing. Even so, our web traffic dominated the server for a few days. So much so that our ISP moved us to a faster computer.

Before the eclipse of August 2017 the majority of searches were for maps and information directly related to the eclipse event. Second came the camera and photography searches. This was to be expected as the eclipse took place over the lower 48 of the USA, the first total solar eclipse to hit this region since 1979. People wanted to know where to go to see the eclipse and how to image it.

The third search was for eclipse chasers in general. I know for a fact a lot these searches were by media personalities and those doing research into various chasers. The queries gave away the media people. They asked questions like "who has seen the most eclipses" and "what is an eclipse chaser".

Immediately after the eclipse the searches changed to finding out more about the eclipse of 2024 which will also hit part of the USA (as well as Mexico and Canada). These searches still continue but with less frequency.

Now we are into October and it seems education is taking over. The searches are more along the lines of "what is an eclipse" and "how eclipses happen". Those sound like assignments from teachers or curious people wondering about what they saw or missed.

I wonder what people will be searching for in the next years to come!

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Getting the details in the log right

A lot of the entries in the eclipse-chasers log are only partially correct. They are missing some key details such as proper elevations and weather reports. If you have a log entry, please go back and check the values for these extra input values.

The input program for the log has been modified. It is now a step by step process to help make sure we get good data input.

To make life even easier, I have added a button to retrieve the elevation from google's map database. This value is accurate to a small degree. That is, I have found it to be satisfactory for our purposes of calculations and logging. If you had a GPS you should use those values, not the google map values.

There has been a bit of confusion regarding the values for totality and time spent under the shadow of the Moon. The first is umbra time while the second is all shadow time (includes partials and annulars). One can be extreme about this and record only the time one spends looking at the corona for totality however it can be argued that spending time in the umbra of the lunar shadow, whether under cloud or not, is still time under the umbra. My recommendation is to record the time you want recorded. If you want total umbra time or total time spent looking at the corona, then enter what makes the most sense to you. The "correctness" of your entry is not being graded, it is all in good fun.

The past month has seen a growth in the number of eclipse chasers logging their results. I thank everyone who contributed ideas and comments, that is what makes this system work! I can't test all the possible outcomes and really appreciate the bug reports and suggestions. More is coming soon!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Chaser Log Growth and Changes

Since the August 2017 TSE, the eclipse chasers log has grown with the addition of many first time eclipse chasers. I hope to see each and every one under the umbra someday!

232 people (as of this blog entry) input entries for the August 2017 TSE thus far. Most are veteran eclipse chasers but there are a few for whom this was the first. Just like 1999 and 1991 and 1972 launched a generation of eclipse chasers, 2017 will be pivotal in that regard.

Welcome page to www.eclipse-chasers.com

I have also made some small changes to the programming of the eclipse chasers web site. The eclipse chasers table for "who saw it" has been enhanced with easier to use headings and summary details. There will be some more changes coming soon thanks to the continued input of various eclipse chasers.

Also, due to a small bug or operational issue in the entry of eclipse logs, it was too easy to use the elevation of the default. This was spotted by veteran eclipse chaser Tony Crocker who then went on a search to find the true elevations for those that had used the default value. We did not modify eclipse timings and so forth, just the elevation values. Thanks Tony for the sleuth work! By the way, I should mention that Tony got married at the eclipse to fellow eclipse chaser Liz O'Mara - contrats guys!

I did look into getting the elevation from the Google API however it is too restricted in terms of how many inquiries you can make to the database. Maybe at some later date that can be updated when Google doesn't need to charge so much to cover whatever costs.

On the bad news front, sorry for not updating information and adding cartoons for a while. Hurricane Irma did a direct hit on our place in Florida. We are okay.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Eclipse 2019 Options

Even though it is two years away, travel companies are hoping to cash in on your interest. They are beginning to offer options to go to the Eclipse in South America 2 July 2019. You can see some of them at https://www.eclipse-chasers.com/php/tseNext.php?TSE=tse2019d where I started a list. (Note to travel companies, send me a link to your site so I can add it to the list.)

The majority listed thus far have chosen Chile as the destination. Looking at the path of totality one can see that the majority of the eclipse is out at sea. A cruise ship is probably the best solution however they are relatively rare in this part of the ocean, especially at this time of year (July). That is the winter season in the southern hemisphere. Only the northern most part of the path goes through the tropics where weather should be favorable.

So what about the Chile options? Are they worth it? Of course, that is, if you can afford it. Travel to South America can be expensive if you want to take in all the places to see. Some of the eclipse travel companies are offering limited, eclipse only, options. This can save a bit on the costs. But do you want to miss all the wonderful things that can be seen for a just a little more money? This is why eclipse travel budgeting is an important part of the process. These expeditions can get expensive!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Planning for the next one?

In case you had not noticed, the Great American Eclipse is over. At least this one is finished. It was a huge success for most eclipse chasers as the August sky cooperated over the majority of the USA continental landfall. Sky gazers saw super clear sky out in the west while those of us in the Midwest enjoyed hazy clear sky. Only a few areas were unlucky with the clouds. You can see the results at this web page where observers have indicated their results.

Corona of 2017 eclipse - Bill Kramer Canon SX60 handheld

More photographic results can be viewed at this 2017 eclipse gallery web page.

Even at maximum duration, this eclipse was kind of short. Under three minutes is never enough corona viewing time! And what a spectacular corona it was too.

So what about the next eclipse?

Upcoming eclipses include two that go across South America and one that will visit the continental USA. These eclipses are a bit longer in duration but come at times when the weather may not be as cooperative.

A really great web site full of travel ideas can be found at: http://whenisthenexteclipse.com

Are you making any plans to see one or more of these? I am. My wife and I will be on board a cruise ship in the South Pacific. We opted for that route after looking at the weather prospects. The eclipse of 2019 (there is no total solar eclipse in 2018) will cross the southern part of South America during the local winter season. The majority of the eclipse is over the waters of the Pacific Ocean thus a cruise ship or airplane represent the best ways to go. Unfortunately all of these options are quite expensive and this will limit the number of people who can see the eclipse.

The Next Great American Eclipse

If you cannot or do not want to travel the next total solar eclipse in the continental USA will be in 2024. This eclipse comes in April and the climate at that time of year for most of the track inside the USA is not all that great. The track does include part of Mexico as well as Texas and there are great options in those locations.

At least one does not have too long to wait. The last eclipse to hit the lower 48 of the USA was in 1979. Some of us waited a long time for 2017!

When will the tours start to organize? 

Generally the tours to an eclipse are organized a year to five years in advance. The longer the advance, the more difficult or limited the options - such as an Antarctic eclipse intercept. There will be one such eclipse coming up in 2021. Planning for that one started over a year ago with contacts made to airlines and ship companies with equipment for tourism in that region.

The 2024 eclipse organizing might already be underway in some places. I expect tour groups will begin to advertise for advance sign up options soon. However the majority of options will not be available until the year before, sometime in 2023. Because of the interest generated in this past August's eclipse it is expected to be another big event generator.