Solar Eclipse Calculation Cartoons
Author: Bill Kramer
Last update: Saturday, 18-Apr-2015 09:52:33 EDT

Solar Eclipse Calculation Cartoons

- by Bill Kramer

My first eclipse was on board a ship in the middle of the north Atlantic Ocean. It was 1972 and I was greatly impressed with the accuracy with which an eclipse could be predicted. The started an investigation into how eclipses are predicted that has led all the way to this web site (which includes an eclipse prediction calculator) and a life long interest in such things. So these cartoons kind of capture various aspects of eclipse prediction from the early times to the present.

Click the image for a higher resolution display. You can use these images in your own presentations with the following acknowledgement: Image (c)Bill Kramer, www.eclipse-chasers.com. For commercial requests (publications) please contact me.


The Bessel approximation method used in modern eclipse calculations was originally devised back in the late 1700s. It involves an iterative process that is well suited to computerization. However, back in those days there were no electric computers as we know them today. It was all done by hand and that was error prone as well as time consuming.


Once you have figured out how to compute eclipse circumstances, the next test is to try your hand at leading a group to your chosen coordinates. And now, just what happens if you are slightly wrong? Would the pitch forks and clubs come out? Do eclipse chasers even have pitch forks?


Computers used to be relegated to air conditioned rooms in big business or government buildings. Back in those days innovation often came from fresh perspectives that were hard to find. These days computers are pervasive and many different solutions may be available for popular problem solving.

Big computers still exist. Super computers that can solve many computations at incredible speeds are used in places like NASA. In this cartoon a geeky kid wants to fix the eclipse predictor on a big machine.


This happened to me. Working with Michael Zeiler on the 2009 TSE eclipse maps I had programmed a rudimentary tool for computing corrections to eclipse calculations based on the lunar profile. The program was highly iterative and tended to run for a long time. Something that is not normal for server based applications. My diligent ISP, always tuning the servers for optimal performance, spotted the long running programs and reset that server thinking they were an error.

All eclipse cartoons were created by Bill Kramer using an iPad and the ArtRage drawing program.

www.eclipse-chasers.com ©Bill Kramer
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