2024 Total Solar Eclipse

NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

On April 8, 2024, many people in North America will witness a memorable event as the moon passes over the sun, creating a total solar eclipse. There are four main types of solar eclipses: a total solar eclipse, a partial solar eclipse, an annular solar eclipse, and a hybrid solar eclipse. A partial solar eclipse is when the moon only blocks the sun partially, leaving behind a crescent shape in the sun. A total solar eclipse, which many will be witnessing today, is when the moon completely covers the sun, casting a shadow on the surface of the Earth. Totality, when the moon completely blocks the sun, can only be observed within a specific path called the “path of totality.” This path is a narrow strip where the moon’s shadow falls on the Earth, allowing viewers to witness the total eclipse. Thus, viewers from various areas gather in the path of totality to observe this rare phenomenon. A total solar eclipse can occur every one to three years, but often, it is only visible from the oceans and not on land. However, today, millions of people along the path of totality can view the total solar eclipse on land.

From a cultural stance, solar eclipses can be omens or symbols of divine intervention. Some see it as a sign that something terrible will happen, and others see it as a battle between good and evil. As a result, various cultures perform rituals before the solar eclipse. For instance, in Navajo culture, the solar eclipse is seen as a sign of respect for the sun and the Earth. To show their respect, many followers of the Navajo culture stay in their homes, avoid food or water so that they do not risk disrupting their spiritual harmony, and narrate traditional beliefs about the origins of the sun and moon. Many other indigenous cultures also practice staying home during the eclipse.

Those outside the path of totality can see only a partial solar eclipse. Therefore, many gather in the path of totality on this day to witness the event.

Scientists predict the eclipse will last from 1:07 PM CT to 2:46 PM CT and travel along the path of totality. The map shows that the eclipse will pass through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. NASA stated that the eclipse will last from 3.5 to 4 minutes from the central line of the path. About 20 minutes before the eclipse passes through an area, the sky turns dark gray.

While it is exhilarating to observe the solar eclipse, it is equally important to be safe while viewing it. Only look directly at the sun with proper eye protection in the form of solar eclipse glasses during the eclipse. Not doing so could result in eye damage, as even sunglasses and other lenses often do not provide sufficient protection from solar emissions.

Scientists predict the next total solar eclipse will occur on March 30, 2033, visible from Alaska. However, the rest of the US will only be able to view it as a partial eclipse. The next total solar eclipse visible by the Contiguous United States will occur in 2045.

Works Cited

Chasan, Aliza. “Solar Eclipse Maps Show 2024 Totality Path, Peak Times and How Much of the Eclipse You Can See across the U.S. – CBS News.” Www.cbsnews.com, 7 Apr. 2024, www.cbsnews.com/news/solar-eclipse-path-map-2024/.

NASA. “Safety – NASA Science.” Science.nasa.gov, science.nasa.gov/eclipses/safety/.

—. “Types of Solar Eclipses – NASA Science.” Science.nasa.gov, science.nasa.gov/eclipses/types/.

Strickland, Ashley. “The Total Solar Eclipse Is Finally Here.” CNN, 8 Apr. 2024, www.cnn.com/2024/04/08/world/2024-total-solar-eclipse-path-scn/index.html#:~:text=An%20estimated%2032%20million%20people. Accessed 8 Apr. 2024.