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Published August 22nd 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017 Data: Mapping the Course of the Eclipse with Geo-Tagged Tweets

The Brandwatch React team monitored Solar Eclipse 2017 data, finding millions of mentions and mapping tweets to see how the lunar event played out.

The 2017 solar eclipse has come and gone, and the memes were wonderful.

The Brandwatch React team, all high on lunar goodness, decided to track mentions of the eclipse as it took place to see how widespread the moon-related hysteria really was.

It turns out it was a big, big thing.

Solar eclipse 2017 data: Top line stats

We found 9,496,813 social media mentions of the solar eclipse on the 21st of August. NINE MILLION. People (and giraffes) went crazy for it.

@NASA, rightly, was the top-tweeted about Twitter account (try saying that when you’ve had a few solar eclipse party drinks!) and provided (inter)stellar coverage of the eclipse throughout the day.

Mentions peaked around 2pm (ET), when the social eclipse experience was getting into full swing.

Solar Eclipse 2017 Data

Mapping the solar eclipse 2017 data

Ever since we heard that the eclipse was coming, we wanted to map the mentions to see how they looked.

So we downloaded 600k tweets from the Brandwatch platform (a 10% sample of tweeted solar eclipse mentions that came from the US) and plotted all of the geo-tagged mentions using Carto.com.

First, we examined how the day looked. You can see how tweets steadily grow and then explode as the eclipse takes place. The blue line shows its path.

Then we looked at the tweets mapped cumulatively against the path of the eclipse.

It didn’t map it perfectly, like we’d hoped (often times these graphs will just map tweets from the most populous places), but you might notice a little pattern that follows the sun.


Beyond Twitter we looked at around 250k Instagram posts mentioning the eclipse on the day.

We found the most popular words surrounding these posts by consulting the topic cloud for Instagram mentions in Brandwatch Analytics that surfaces popular words and phrases. Where the Twitter topic cloud gave us the memes (which we will discuss at length below), Instagram gave us more contextual information about how people were enjoying the eclipse.

Where the Twitter topic cloud gave us the memes (which we will discuss at length below), Instagram gave us more contextual information about how people were enjoying the eclipse.

Surrounded by lovely scenery, with family, celebrating a rare event – it all sounds pretty idyllic (but that’s basically what Instagram is).

Brands getting involved

The eclipse, a non-offensive, predictable, international event was the perfect opportunity for brands to jump on a trend.

But brands were no match for NASA and all of the other memes when it came to content that was surfacing as most popular. Perhaps people aren’t so keen on brands attempting to gain traction during natural events.

We do need to extend some kudos to this…interesting ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ cover by our friends at Hootsuite.

Strange events on social

With nine million mentions to play with, we were able to cherry pick some of the most viral content that surfaced in the conversation.

This was one of the only top-ten tweets that actually featured the sun and moon. To be fair, it’s pretty cool.

But of course, the internet was full of solar eclipse fun that went beyond the scientific nature of the event. Even NASA was dishing out memes.

Twilight fans will be glad to see this amongst the most shared eclipse jokes:

These tiny pugs were the third most tweeted about solar eclipse content:

And not everyone got hold of a special pair of eclipse glasses.

But you’d think POTUS would have been better equipped from the outset.

Are you a journalist looking to cover our data? We have plenty more. Give us a shout at [email protected] with any requests or questions.



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