Double-Checking NASA’s Eclipse Estimate At Home

If you were lucky enough to be near the path of totality, and didn’t have your view obscured by clouds, yesterday’s eclipse provided some very memorable views. But you know what’s even better than making memories? Having cold hard data to back it up.

Hackaday contributor [Bob Baddeley] was in Madison, Wisconsin for the big event, which NASA’s Eclipse Explorer website predicted would see about 87% coverage. Watching the eclipse through the appropriate gear at the local hackerspace was fun, but the real nerding out happened when he got home and could pull the data from his solar system.

A graph of the system’s generated power shows a very clear dip during the duration of the eclipse, which let him determine exactly when the occlusion started, peaked, and ended.

What’s more, by comparing the output of the panels at their lowest with the pre-eclipse peak, [Bob] was able to calculate that the light falling on them dropped by roughly 87 to 90% — right where NASA pegged it. Similarly, the timing of the eclipse as experienced by his solar system lined up within a few minutes of what the website predicted.

That the world’s leading space agency was able to properly model one of the biggest celestial events in recent memory is perhaps not overly surprising. That’s part of what we’re paying them for, honestly. But it’s always good to run a second set of eyes over the numbers.

26 thoughts on “Double-Checking NASA’s Eclipse Estimate At Home

      1. It was a big worry with rain the previous night, and a chance rest of the week. There were still clouds going through during the event, but when totality came it was clear. The temperature drop, and the bright white ring of fire was something else.

  1. Reminds me of the thermometer logging data from my greenhouse – turns out the graph is a perfect rendition of the horizon south of the greenhouse. You can definitely make out a tree and a neighbor’s roof line.

    Single pixel camera, in effect.

  2. Drove south 2 hours from Branson, Mo. to Clinton, Ark. a small town on the centerline that had no crowds and clear skies. Totality was long and awesome. Waiting for my pics to be ready at the photo lab. Yep…I shot film on an old school Minolta XGM…oops gotta go flip my POCO album over on the turntable…

  3. drove up the NB coast to Kouchibouguac National Park
    for the total event
    there is no such thing as a partial eclipse
    seeing the suns corona,naked eye with a huge solar flare
    on the bottom left
    3.5 hr drive each way,huge,HUGE,traffic jams in the middle of nowhere
    awsome,worth it many times over

    1. Darn straight! Brutal ride but eminently worth it! Apparently experiencing totality with your identical twin will not trigger the End Times! My 30+ year old Meade DS-2090 alt-az – made from parts that never left the factory together – tracked better than my brother’s modern iOptron! (Snicker) shuffle played “Invisible Sun” on loonnnngg ride back. Got great images !

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