April 2024 North American Total Solar Eclipse

April 2024 North American Total Solar Eclipse

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will be visible across Mexico, Canada, and thirteen US states. Here’s what you need to know about the major astronomical event.

What Are the Stages of a Total Solar Eclipse?


NASA defines several phases of a total solar eclipse, including:

Partial Eclipse

The sun will appear to have a crescent shape as the moon begins to cross in front of it.

Shadow Bands

Just before and right after totality, you might be able to see faint, dark bands separated by white spaces moving rapidly on the sides of buildings or across the ground.

Baily’s Beads

The sun’s light rays stream through the valleys along the moon’s edge, creating multiple points of light shining around the moon as it continues to move across the sun.

Diamond Ring

As the Baily’s Beads disappear, a single bright spot will remain along the edge of the moon’s shadow, resembling a diamond ring with the bright spot representing the diamond and the thin edge of light around the moon representing the ring.

Totality

The moon completely blocks out the sun. During totality, you might be able to see the chromosphere (a region of the solar atmosphere that appears as a thin circle of pink around the moon) and the corona (the outer solar atmosphere that appears as streams of white light).

What Does “Path of Totality” Mean?


The “path of totality” refers to the area where the moon entirely blocks out the sun. People who are not in the path of totality will experience a partial eclipse, where the moon covers part of the sun but not all of it. The closer you are to the path of totality, the greater the percentage of the moon’s coverage.

For those in the path of totality, the sky will become dark during the peak of the solar eclipse, as if it were dusk or dawn. You can expect the temperature to drop about 10° F, depending on the humidity and cloud cover. For those outside the path, the sky will be slightly darker, but not nearly as drastic.

2024 solar eclipse path of totality across North America

Image Source

How to Safely View a Solar Eclipse


As you know, looking directly at the sun will damage your eyes and can lead to permanent damage, potentially resulting in partial or complete blindness. Even if you glance at the sun and then look away quickly, damage has been done to your retinas. Symptoms can include blurred vision, pain, dark or yellow spots, and/or loss of vision in the center of your eye.

Even when the moon is covering 99% of the sun, that tiny 1% sliver is still intense enough to cause a retinal burn. However, during totality when the moon is completely covering the sun, it is safe to observe the solar eclipse with the naked eye (according to NASA). If you remove your eye protection, be cautious and cognizant about the moon shifting out of position. You don’t have pain receptors in your retina, so damage can occur before you realize it.

The American Astronomical Society recommends using solar eclipse glasses that comply with the ISO 12312-2 international standard. However, some of the mass-produced and widely distributed glasses are labeled as ISO compliant despite not being properly tested, which means you might think you’re safe, but you’re actually damaging your eyes. The AAS has compiled a list of verified suppliers you can trust for authentic solar eclipse glasses.

Not sure if your solar eclipse glasses are safe? First, check the inside flaps for the ISO 12312-2 rating. If you want to be extra safe prior to the solar eclipse, NASA recommends testing your glasses first by putting on the glasses and looking at a bright light (not the sun). If the light is very dim or not visible at all, then your glasses are safe. At most, you should be able to see the filament of the bulb, not the glow of the light. There also shouldn’t be any small holes letting in light.

(According to CBS, many of the fake eclipse glasses flooding the market are produced by overseas companies. Look for US-based manufacturers. The AAS advises against ordering from online marketplaces such as Amazon or Temu.)

Solar eclipse glasses ISO 12312-2

How Long Will the Solar Eclipse Last?


Most places along the path of totality will experience a duration of totality lasting between 3.5 and 4 minutes, with the longest duration being approximately 4 minutes and 28 seconds near Torreón, Mexico. (Source: NASA)

What Time Is the Solar Eclipse in My Area?


According to Great American Eclipse, here are the times to see the eclipse in the local time zones of major cities in the path of totality:

Chart of times to view the 2024 solar eclipse

Watch the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse via Live Stream


If you aren’t in the path of totality and want to watch the eclipse, you can tune in to NASA’s live stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MJY_ptQW1o

When Will the Next Total Solar Eclipse Occur in North America?


We won’t see another total solar eclipse until Aug. 23, 2044, and that eclipse won’t have as broad of a path through the United States as the 2024 eclipse. The 2044 total solar eclipse will start in Greenland, travel through Canada, and end around sunset in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

So, you definitely don’t want to miss the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024!

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Award-winning fantasy author, freelance writer, spiritual explorer, and sole founder of Green Witch Lunar Witch. She created her first website in 2016 and published her first novel two years later. Sara spends most of her time writing, creating, and daydreaming.