So why do the headlines of some news items say they are wrong?
What is going on here? With accurate predictions decades in advance how could the calculators be wrong just a week before the eclipse? The problem is not in the math and not in the calculators per se. The problem is in figuring out just how big the Sun will appear in the sky.
You would think that astronomers would have a pretty handle on this size. They do. Within reasonable limits. You see it is not their fault, it is the Sun itself. The Sun is a ball of gas and getting a good measurement is not all that easy. It is a moving target in a way. Just where is the edge? What do we define as the edge? Is it uniform in size all the time? These questions make the job a tough one.
So would you like to help figure this puzzle out? Some of the scientists at the International Occultation Timing Association (they time things getting in the way such as when the Moon passes in front of a star) have an experiment they'd like you to do, with your cell phone, to help measure the size of the shadow and thus the solar disk.
Of course, following this information set my imagination running and here are some new cartoons on the subject.
|Solar System Conversation|