How to watch, understand and stay safe
How to watch, understand and stay safe

The surreal midday darkness of a total solar eclipse will pass over the United States on April 8, 2024, and there’s a lot you need to know ahead of the big day that won’t happen again for about two decades.

Of all the celestial sights, there’s nothing quite like a total solar eclipse, when the sun, moon and Earth align and a narrow swath of land is plunged into the moon’s shadow.

But seeing the view yourself requires some planning: you’ll want to know where the path of totality is, how to get goggles, how bad the traffic will be, and more.

Read on for answers to all your eclipse questions, including how to watch the eclipse, understand the eclipse, and stay safe during the eclipse.

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Solar eclipse 2024: What to know, how to prepare

AccuWeather astronomy expert Brian Lada looks at the key things to know about the upcoming total solar eclipse that will darken skies over the United States from Texas to Maine on April 8.

VIEWING THE ECLIPSE IN APRIL 2024

How to watch the 2024 solar eclipse?

There are several ways to view the eclipse:

  • Get the full experience in person: If you’re in a narrow strip of US land that stretches from Texas to Maine, you’ll see the moon block the sun and its shadow cast night-like darkness over Earth for a few minutes. You will briefly be able to look up without protective eyes and see the moon blocking the sun.
  • Look outside the path of totality: Much of the US will get a partial view of the eclipse, which isn’t as impressive as being in the path of totality. Earth won’t be plunged into total darkness, and you’ll need to wear protective glasses to see the moon partially block the sun.
  • Watch a live broadcast: Check back on April 8 for a video feed of the path of totality. It’s not the same as being there in person, but hey, at least you won’t have to sit in traffic.

What time is the solar eclipse on April 8?

The eclipse will begin in Texas at 1:27 PM CDT and end in Maine at 3:35 PM EDT, but the exact time of the eclipse varies depending on where you are in its path.

You can search by zip code to find the exact time for your location.

Where will the April eclipse be visible?

All of the lower 48 US states will see the moon at least clip the sun, but that sight is a pittance compared to being in the path of totality.

Because the narrow path includes or is near some of the nation’s largest cities, expect millions of people to crowd into a strip of land just over 100 miles wide that stretches from the Texas/Mexico border to the Maine/Canada border.

Here are the major cities in each state where you can expect to experience totality (note that the times included do not take into account when the partial eclipse begins and ends):

  • Dallas, TX: 1:40 p.m.-1:44 p.m. CDT
  • Idabel, OK: 1:45-1:49 PM CDT
  • Little Rock, AR: 1:51-1:54 PM CDT
  • Poplar Bluff, MO: 1:56-2pm CDT
  • Paducah, KY: 14-14:02 CDT
  • Carbondale, IL: 1:59 p.m.-2:03 a.m. CDT
  • Evansville, IN: 14:02-14:05 CDT
  • Cleveland, OH: 3:13-3:17 PM EDT
  • Erie, PA: 3:16-3:20 p.m. EDT
  • Buffalo, NY: 3:18-3:22 am EDT
  • Burlington, Vermont: 3:26-3:29 am EDT
  • Lancaster, New Hampshire: 3:27-3:30 am EDT
  • Caribou, Maine: 3:32-3:34 a.m. EDT

Will clouds block the April 2024 eclipse?

It’s too early to say for sure, but history offers some clues.

Chances of cloudy skies are pretty high along most of the eclipse’s northern path, with some areas like Buffalo having a one-in-three chance of clear skies in early April.

Skies are usually clearer in the south. Right along the Texas-Mexico border, chances of clear skies can be nearly 75%.

Note that clouds do not always spoil the eclipse. High wispy clouds won’t spoil the show in the same way that low thick clouds will. In this case, you won’t be able to see the moon pass in front of the sun, but you will still notice a sudden darkness in the path of totality.

Where is the best place to view the eclipse?

Texas is considered the best state for eclipse viewing. There’s a good chance the sky will be clear, and its location along the southern path of the eclipse means totality will last a bit longer.

Will traffic be bad?

Most likely yes – especially after the eclipse ends. Millions of people will crowd the narrow path of totality, then many will try to leave all at once as soon as the eclipse ends.

When a total solar eclipse passed over the US in 2017, reports said some traffic jams didn’t clear completely for more than 12 hours.

UNDERSTANDING THE 2024 ECLIPSE

What is a solar eclipse? Definition explained.

A total solar eclipse occurs when three celestial spheres—the sun, moon, and Earth—align in a certain way in space.

According to NASA, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth. This alignment casts a moving shadow on Earth that completely or partially blocks sunlight in some areas. This results in a period of partial or complete darkness over a narrow section of the Earth.

The path is so narrow because of the enormous distance and size of the sun – as well as the moon’s distance from Earth. This focuses the moon’s shadow on an area of ​​land much smaller than the moon itself. The movement of the shadow across the earth occurs when the Earth’s rotation interacts with the Moon’s orbit.

A total eclipse only happens occasionally because the moon does not orbit in the same plane as the sun and Earth. Also, a solar eclipse can only happen during a new moon.

What is special about a total solar eclipse?

The April 8 total solar eclipse is causing such excitement because the rare event is an astronomical experience like no other that will be unusually accessible to millions of people.

April’s total solar eclipse will fall in more places in the US than the total eclipse before and after it. And the broad length of the path of totality — where Americans have the best chance of getting a clear view — is “much wider” than it was for the 2017 eclipse, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

A total solar eclipse is also much more impressive than a lunar or annular solar eclipse. During an annular eclipse, the moon covers the Sun, but leaves an outer ring that some call a “ring of fire”—it darkens the sky instead of plunging Earth into the night-like darkness that occurs during a total solar eclipse. And a lunar eclipse — the appearance of a red moon — happens when the moon passes into Earth’s shadow, according to NASA.

Total solar eclipses can also have spiritual significance. Ancient cultures seen as a sign of the wrath of the gods or impending departure. Some religions today organize eclipse viewing and services.

Historically, eclipses have left great marks on religious and spiritual civilizations. In Christianity, it is associated with the darkness that accompanied the crucifixion of Jesus, and in Islam, with the death of the son of the prophet Muhammad Ibrahim.

When will the next solar eclipse happen?

The next visible total solar eclipse to pass over the U.S. after April will come in more than two decades on Aug. 23, 2044, according to NASA.

And this eclipse won’t be as accessible as the 2024 one: The path of totality in 2044 will only touch the states of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, according to the Planetary Society, a nonprofit research, public and political advocacy for space. Another total eclipse will pass over the US in 2045, which will be more accessible to Americans, including people who live in California, Florida and Nevada.

ECLIPSE AND SAFETY GLASSES

What glasses are needed for the eclipse?

Viewing the bright rays of the eclipse without protective glasses can cause serious damage to the retina of the eye, so wearing a pair of safety glasses is important.

There is a technical standard for eclipse glasses that are designed to block most of the light and allow you to safely see the moon pass in front of the sun: It’s called ISO 12312-2 after the International Organization for Standardization.

While there are concerns that not all glasses sold as eclipse glasses meet this standard, experts say the flaws are usually not significant.

How can you tell if eclipse glasses are real?

NASA shared an easy method to check eclipse glasses at home.

Buyers must put on their glasses and look at a bright light, such as a flashlight. If the light is “extremely dim” or doesn’t appear at all, the glasses are safe, Susanna Darling of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center said in an instructional video. Viewers should be able to see the filament of the light bulb, not the glow around the bulb.

How can I watch the eclipse without glasses?

If you don’t have access to blackout glasses, don’t use regular sunglasses—you need a more creative solution for safe viewing, like a pinhole projector.

Contributed by Ramon Padilla, Karina Zaiets and Janet Loehrke

By admin

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