All along the eclipse path

Posted by Michael Bakich
on Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Astronomy magazine editorial staff poses (with approved eclipse glasses on) in front of’s 50-foot-long map of the 2017 total solar eclipse path. From left to right, we are Richard Talcott, David Eicher, Nicole Kiefert, John Wenz, yours truly, and Alison Klesman. // Astronomy: William Zuback
A week ago, Michael Zeiler, owner of, sent me something outlandish. Something eccentric. Something amazing: a 50-foot-long map that charts the path of the Moon’s shadow during the August 21 total solar eclipse.

Zeiler had produced a much (much!) smaller version for sale. And although most people into astronomy generally think of him as the eclipse map guru, his actual job is as a technical writer at the Environmental Systems Research Institute. There, he helped develop the ArcGIS geographic information system for creating, analyzing, and sharing geographic data.

A few months ago, he was at work speaking to representatives from Hewlett-Packard. They told him the company had just acquired a spectacular new plotter, and they wanted to test it out on a big project. Zeiler showed them his map, and suggested they create a much larger version. They did, and they sent him eight copies of it. He then sent one to me.

I already have used it as a backdrop for an eclipse talk I presented at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo on April 22. Then, yesterday, I gathered the Astronomy staff together for a photo. We posed for several versions, but the one you see here is my favorite — we’re all wearing eclipse glasses!

A big thanks to Alison Klesman for helping me tape the poster to a wall in our meeting room, and to the rest of the staff for their time putting all the tables and chairs back in place. Fun!


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