The next total solar eclipse, when the moon completely blocks the face of the sun, could be your last chance to see one for decades to come.
Such an event is expected to sweep across Mexico, the US, and Canada on April 8, 2024. And according to NASA, that will be the last total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous US until August 2044.
During a total solar eclipse, the moon passes between the sun and Earth, blocking the sunlight and darkening the sky as if it were early morning or late at night. The last time this type of eclipse event took place over the US was in August 2017when people were able to see the event across the continent for the first time in almost 100 years.
Total solar eclipses occur every one to three years, but the events are usually only visible from Earth’s poles or the middle of the ocean.
While next year’s eclipse won’t be visible from coast to coast, the path of totality crosses a dozen states, including Texas, Arkansas, New York and Pennsylvania. Totality will begin over the South Pacific Ocean before crossing over Mexico, toward the US and will end after crossing Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. States not in the path of totality will still be able to see a partial solar eclipse.
The first location in North America expected to witness totality is the Pacific coast of Mexico around 11:07 a.m. PDT, according to NASA. While the eclipse will last a couple of hours, totality will only last about four minutes. Only during these few minutes is it safe for people to remove their special eclipse glasses.
what to expect
The long-awaited moment of a total solar eclipse, totality, is just minutes out of an hours-long process, and beyond that moment, it’s crucial that people wear special eclipse glasses to avoid hurting their eyes.
The event will begin with what is called the partial stage, when the moon has not yet completely covered the sun, giving the giant star a crescent shape. This can take 70-80 minutes in most places. As the moon approaches totality, “Baily’s pearls” will appear: small rays of light from the sun that travel rapidly along the moon’s horizon. Then, just before totality, the beads will disappear, leaving only a bright spot called a “diamond ring.”
That’s when the moment finally arrives: the sky is dark and the sun appears as a shiny black orb.
“During totality, take a few seconds to observe the world around you. You may be able to see a 360-degree sunset. You may also see some particularly bright stars or planets in the dark sky,” says NASA. “The air temperature will drop, and an eerie silence will often settle around you. It’s also worth taking a look at the people around you: many people have a deep emotional response when the Sun enters full.”
After just a couple of moments, the process that led to totality will repeat itself in reverse, and the eclipse will come to an end.
Upcoming Celestial Events
Although the total solar eclipse is still more than a year away, it’s not the only opportunity to view a celestial event from outside your home. The annular solar eclipse it will cross North, Central and South America on October 1. On the 14th of this year, which will be the last time this type of eclipse will be visible from the continental US until 2039, NASA said.
And if you’re craving a little space before fall, you only have to wait a few weeks.
A bright green kite known as C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is set to make its first and likely only appearance to human eyes. The comet, which is believed to have traveled billions of miles through space, is expected to come closest to the Sun on January 12 and come closest to Earth on February 2, at which time people will be able to glimpse the comet alone with your binoculars and, if you are very lucky, with the naked eye.
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