Edge of solar eclipse path of totality may slightly shift, experts warn

Edge of solar eclipse path of totality may slightly shift, experts warn

The path of Monday’s solar eclipse will be narrower than projected, according to a recent adjustment in calculations, meaning some viewers expecting to see the total eclipse will miss out.

John Irwin, an expert in eclipse predictions, discovered that the trajectory of totality — where the sun is fully covered by the moon — will be 600 yards thinner than initially projected by NASA, the New York Post reported. 

The update implies a narrower window of optimum viewing for those situated along the fringe of the totality path, potentially diminishing the duration of complete coverage. It also means some locations will miss the complete solar eclipse experience.

“Calculations that use a slightly larger radius for the size of the sun yield an eclipse path that is slightly narrower,” Michael Kirk, a research scientist in the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told Thrillist on Wednesday.

“This difference would only affect cities on the very edge of the path of totality, where blanket predictions are difficult, regardless,” he said. “A few city blocks one way or the other could mean 20, 10, or zero seconds of totality.”

Initial expectations put Rome, New York; Effingham, Illinois; and the Cité Jardin area in Montreal as prime spots for brief but total eclipse viewing. However, those locations now find themselves on the outside looking in. Forbes magazine was the first to announce the adjustment to the eclipse’s path, which encompasses a width of 115 miles and stretches more than 9,200 miles.

NASA experts have acknowledged the likelihood of slight inaccuracies in the official map and suggest that spectators near the path’s edge consider moving at least a mile inward to ensure a full view of the event. The discrepancy arises from debated assumptions regarding the sun’s dimensions.

“Measurements and observations in the last decade have demonstrated that [the traditional measurement of the sun] is slightly too small,” said Luca Quaglia, Mr. Irwin’s collaborator. “There is evidence that the solar radius has changed over the centuries.”

Despite the findings, many major U.S. metropolitan areas — including Dallas, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Buffalo, New York — remain well-placed within the path’s center, poised to witness roughly four minutes of total darkness.

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