A visual explanation of the mechanism of two solar eclipses on 26 Dec. 2019 and 21 Jun. 2020.
The story reached an above-average level of engagement on social media.
Positions of celestial bodies are partly calculated by solving Kepler’s law on the fly, partly obtained from NASA JPL’s HORIZONS database. They are drawn by using webGL and the shadow on the Earth is calculated in the shader program. The interactive feature makes full use of the magnetometer in the mobile device to simulate the eclipse in the reader’s environment.
What was the hardest part of this project?
What can others learn from this project?
Sometimes we have to reconcile ourselves to using deformed charts to explain the subjects in which the very “scale” matters as it is impossible to draw to scale on print media. Dynamic graphics make it easy to explain not only scientific subjects but also environmental issues or economic phenomena in which small number for each reader should be translated to large number for the whole.