ENVIRONMENT

April’s total solar eclipse is a month away. Here’s why it’s worth the watch and how to stay safe

Mar 15, 2024, 9:00 AM | Updated: 10:35 am

total solar eclipse coming in april...

FILE - The moon covers the sun during a total solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, in Cerulean, Ky. On April 8, 2024, the sun will pull another disappearing act across parts of Mexico, the United States and Canada, turning day into night for as much as 4 minutes, 28 seconds. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

The sun is about to pull another disappearing act across North America, turning day into night during a total solar eclipse.

The peak spectacle on April 8 will last up to 4 minutes, 28 seconds in the path of total darkness — twice as long as the total solar eclipse that dimmed U.S. skies in 2017.

This eclipse will take a different and more populated route, entering over Mexico’s Pacific coast, dashing up through Texas and Oklahoma, and crisscrossing the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and New England, before exiting over eastern Canada into the Atlantic.

An estimated 44 million people live inside the 115-mile-wide (185-kilometer-wide) path of totality stretching from Mazatlán, Mexico to Newfoundland; about 32 million of them are in the U.S., guaranteeing jammed roads for the must-see celestial sensation.

The eclipse will allow many to share in the “wonder of the universe without going very far,” said NASA’s eclipse program manager Kelly Korreck.

Here’s what to know about April’s extravaganza and how to prepare:

What happens during the April total solar eclipse?

The moon will line up perfectly between the Earth and the sun, blotting out the sunlight. It will slice a diagonal line from the southwest to the northeast across North America, briefly plunging communities along the track into darkness.

Fifteen U.S. states will get a piece of the action, albeit two of them — Tennessee and Michigan — just barely.

Among the cities smack dab in the action: Dallas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Indianapolis, Cleveland; Buffalo, New York; and Montreal — making for the continent’s biggest eclipse crowd.

Don’t fret if you don’t have front-row seats. Practically everyone on the continent can catch at least a partial eclipse. The farther from the path of totality, the smaller the moon’s bite will be out of the sun. In Seattle and Portland, Oregon, about as far away as you can get in the continental U.S., one-third of the sun will be swallowed.

Why is totality longer?

By a cosmic stroke of luck, the moon will make the month’s closest approach to Earth the day before the total solar eclipse. That puts the moon just 223,000 miles (360,000 kilometers) away on eclipse day.

The moon will appear slightly bigger in the sky thanks to that proximity, resulting in an especially long period of sun-blocked darkness.

What’s more, the Earth and moon will be 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from the sun that day, the average distance.

When a closer moon pairs up with a more distant sun, totality can last as long as an astounding 7 1/2 minutes. The last time the world saw more than seven minutes of totality was in 1973 over Africa. That won’t happen again until 2150 over the Pacific.

How do I safely watch the eclipse?

Sunglasses won’t cut it. Special eclipse glasses are crucial for safely observing the sun as the moon marches across the late morning and afternoon sky, covering more and more and then less and less of our star.

During totality when the sun is completely shrouded, it’s fine to remove your glasses and look with your naked eyes. But before and after, certified eclipse glasses are essential to avoid eye damage. Just make sure they’re not scratched or torn.

Cameras, binoculars and telescopes must be outfitted with special solar filters for safe viewing. Bottom line: Never look at an exposed sun without proper protection any day of the year.

Where are some eclipse watch parties near me?

Towns up and down the path of totality are throwing star parties. Festivals, races, yoga retreats, drum circles and more will unfold at museums, fairgrounds, parks, stadiums, wineries, breweries and even one of Ohio’s oldest drive-in movie theaters and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Besides looking up, you can attend a “space prom” in Texas Hill Country, get married at eclipse-themed ceremonies in Tiffin, Ohio, and Russellville, Arkansas, or brush up on moonwalking history at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio — Neil Armstrong’s hometown.

As the eclipse unfolds, NASA will launch small rockets with science instruments into the upper atmosphere from Virginia and chase totality’s shadow from high-altitude planes. Satellites and the International Space Station crew will attempt to capture the show from space.

There will be numerous livestreams for those stuck with clouds or outside the path.

When is the next total solar eclipse?

Full solar eclipses occur every year or two or three, often in the middle of nowhere like the South Pacific or Antarctic. The next total solar eclipse, in 2026, will grace the northern fringes of Greenland, Iceland and Spain.

North America won’t experience totality again until 2033, with Alaska getting sole dibs. Then that’s it until 2044, when totality will be confined to Western Canada, Montana and North Dakota.

There won’t be another U.S. eclipse, spanning coast to coast, until 2045. That one will stretch from Northern California all the way to Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Aside from Carbondale, Illinois, in the crosshairs of both the 2017 and 2024 eclipses, it usually takes 400 years to 1,000 years before totality returns to the same spot, according to NASA’s Korreck.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Environment

sunshine on cherry blossoms shown. Spring weather...

Peter Johnston

Spring weather slowing melt of snowpack, and that’s good

The cooler upcoming spring weather will slow the melt of Utah's snowpack and local meteorologists say that is good.

58 minutes ago

Water releases are being conducted at Panguitch Lake dam in order to prevent a big crack from from ...

Peter Johnston

100 high-hazard dams remain a risk across Utah, assistant state engineer says

Following the discovery of a large crack in the Panguitch Lake Dam, one expert said that 100 other dams pose a high risk.

22 hours ago

Hikers explore a trail, hiking is good for health, be it mental or physical...

Tim Hughes

Take a hike, it’s good for your health

As the weather warms up, consider hiking for your health. Research shows it provides not just physical benefits, but mental ones too.

23 hours ago

A snow-dusted peak in the Manti-La Sal National Forest...

Mariah Maynes

Manti-La Sal National Forest officials announce prescribed burns

Forest fire officials announced three prescribed burns for areas within the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

24 hours ago

A hiker walks along the trail on Ensign Peak, Search and Rescue teams issue reminder about hiking s...

Alexandrea Bonilla and Emma Keddington

Search and Rescue teams issue reminder about hiking safety

Search and Rescue teams are reminding hikers about safety when hiking after a hiker got lost this weekend.

1 day ago

Volunteers gather at Pedal and Pick at Jordan Park in Salt Lake City to celebrate earth day...

Mariah Maynes

How did April 22 become Earth Day?

20 million Americans took part in the first Earth Day in 1970. Nowadays, the event is a global affair.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

April’s total solar eclipse is a month away. Here’s why it’s worth the watch and how to stay safe