Solar Eclipse 2021

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  • A time-sequence composite of the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse (Photo by: VW Pics/Universal ... [+] Images Group via Getty Images)

    Universal Images Group via Getty Images

    Did you see the “sunrise solar eclipse?” If you didn’t—and even if you did—you should know that for North America the best is yet to come. 

    What happened on Thursday in parts of North America and across Europe was an annular or “ring” solar eclipse, a pretty kind of eclipse, but not one that’s going to change your perspective on life, the Universe and everything. 

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    That kind of eclipse—a total solar eclipse—will happen next in North America on April 8, 2024 when up to 4 minutes 26 second of precious “totality” comes to a 120 miles-wide path through the Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. 

    The “Greater American Eclipse,” anyone?

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    Here’s everything you need to know about the 2024 total solar eclipse:

    How big a deal will the 2024 total solar eclipse be? 

    “It’s a big one,” said Dr. Jackie Faherty, Senior Scientist and Senior Education Manager jointly in the Department of Astrophysics and the Department of Education at the American Museum of Natural History, New York. “It will cross the U.S. south to north and so people in Texas will have a view and people in New York will have a view—though not New York City.” 

    The event, which will visit 15 U.S. states, may recall the event of August 21, 2017, but this one will have its own unique character. “It’s a total solar eclipse along a path that doesn’t cross from coast to coast of the U.S.—like in 2017—but from south to north,” said Faherty. “It crosses some pretty major cities so large populations of people will be able to just step outside of their homes, look up and watch this eclipse.” 

    It’s reckoned that at least 32 million—and maybe as many as 50 million—people may be within the narrow “path of totality” on April 8, 2024. 

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    What cities will see the 2024 total solar eclipse?

    Those cities in the path of totality include Austin, Dallas, Little Rock, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo, Rochester, Montpelier and Montreal while the likes of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago and St. Louis are within a two or three-hour drive of the path.

    It will be visible from Niagara Falls, Reunion Tower in Dallas and Mont Mégantic Observatory in Quebec. Other honeypot sites include Fredericksburg in Texas Hill Country, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in Texas and NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. 

    What states will see the 2024 total solar eclipse?

    As this map—complete with simulations of exactly what you’ll see—shows, the 2024 total solar eclipse will be visible from: 

    • Mexico: Sinaloa, Durango and Coahuila.
    • U.S.: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. 
    • Canada: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. 

    Why you must be within the ‘path of totality’

    A 99% solar eclipse is nothing compared to a 100% total solar eclipse. Only from that narrow “path of totality” will you be feel the Moon’s shadow rush towards you as the temperature drops and the light plunges to a silvery twilight. Then remove your eclipse glasses to see the last ray of sunlight form a “diamond ring” around the Moon.

    You’ll get butterflies in your stomach and a primeval feeling that something terrible is happening; it’s dark, it’s cold and you’re now looking at the Sun’s delicate ice-white corona spraying into space. You see the Sun as it really is—a star floating in space. Another diamond ring flashes and acts as a light-switch. It’s like nothing ever happened, but you know you’ve just experienced something profound. 

    That’s if the weather plays ball, of course—and in April that’s not guaranteed. 

    Where is the best chance of clear skies? 

    “The major thing to look out for in any eclipse viewing event is the weather and avid eclipse-chasers will send a lot of time mulling over historical weather maps,” said Faherty. “People will want to lock in their location and book something ahead of time because typically when you get an event like this you can easily quadruple the population of a town as people just come upon the centerline of the path of totality trying to find the best spot.” 

    The best weather-related spots are always the ones that everybody's going to head to—and that means Mazatlán and Torreón in Mexico and Texas in the U.S

    Two boys watch the solar eclipse at Texas Motor Speedway on August 21, 2017 in Fort Worth, Texas. ... [+] Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. During the event, the moon will pass in between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun. Fort Worth residents will see about 75 percent of the sun blocked by the moon. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

    Getty Images

    Will the 2024 total solar eclipse be as big as 2017’s ‘Great American Eclipse?’  

    Maybe not. The duration of totality may be almost double, but timing just isn’t as good. “The last one was in the summer, the kids were off school and it was coast to coast—it was also only in the U.S. so it was a huge deal talked about non-stop,” said Faherty. “In 2024 it won’t cross the whole country and it's in April when the kids are in school and the weather will be questionable.”

    However, there’s a little thing called social media. “Social media made the last eclipse a huge deal and eight years later we’re only going to be more into that,” said Faherty, who’s seen social media help explode astronomical viewing events. “Things gets amplified hugely because of social media, which draws attention to it locally,” said Faherty. “If you didn’t realize that the path of totality was going to cross over your city, social media will let you know.”

    So make a plan to stay close to the centreline of the path of totality on April 8, 2024—thereby maximizing the duration of totality—but be prepared to change plans at the last minute as weather forecasts dictate.

    But whatever you do, don’t miss the 2024 total solar eclipse—a “Great American Eclipse” like no other.

    Disclaimer: I am the Editor of strong data-ga-track="ExternalLink:"">>

    and the author of several strong data-ga-track="ExternalLink:"">>eclipse travel guides

    Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes. 

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