TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE
April 8, 2024
On April 8, 2024, the next total solar eclipse will be visible from North America. The map below shows the path of this total solar eclipse. To see the eclipse, you'll need to be located somewhere along the path of totality.
CAUTION: Never look at the Sun, either directly or through a telescope, without a professionally made protective solar filter installed that completely covers the front of the instrument, or permanent eye damage could result.
For information on the October 2, 2024 Annular Solar Eclipse, click here.
A total solar eclipse is a breathtaking celestial event that occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, casting its shadow on our planet. It is a rare alignment of heavenly bodies that captivates observers with its awe-inspiring beauty.
As the Moon takes a bigger and bigger bite out of the Sun's disc, the sky begins to darken and the temperature cools. Just seconds before the Sun's disc is completely covered, the last slivers of sunlight shoot through deep valleys on the Moon's leading edge, creating bead-like beams known as Baily's Beads. Suddenly, just one bead remains — a gleaming jewel in a heavenly "Diamond Ring", which is as spine-tinglingly elegant as it is evanescent. As the last bead blinks out, a moment of exquisite transformation arrives — the onset of totality.
Day turns to twilight, and a hush falls upon the landscape. For those in the narrow "path of totality", the Moon is now perfectly aligned with the Sun, completely blocking its radiant photosphere. And a magnificent spectacle unfolds. The corona, the Sun's outer atmosphere, bursts into view — a shimmering, swaying crown of wispy white light that extends in all directions from the Moon's black silhouette. Normally invisible due to the Sun's overpowering photosphere, the dramatic appearance of the corona elicits cheers and gasps of awe from onlookers. Those with binoculars or a telescope may glimpse bright red flares called prominences on the edge of the Sun.
During the precious seconds or minutes of totality — its length varies with each eclipse — an otherworldly twilight sets in. Stars and planets appear in the darkened sky, birds may cease their chirping, and nocturnal creatures may stir, confused by the sudden onset of dusk. The Sun's corona bathes the landscape in a muted, pearly light. The 360-degree horizon outside of the Moon's shadow glows with sunset colors.
Time seems to stand still as you take in this sumptuous, sensory spectacle. But it doesn't, really, and all too soon totality comes to an end. A second diamond ring emerges as a sliver of sunlight peeks through a lunar valley, this time on the Moon's trailing edge. Then, more light bursts into view as the Moon slides past the Sun, signaling the beginning of the post-totality partial phase of the eclipse. The sky gradually brightens as more of the Sun's disc becomes unmasked, and the temperature starts to warm again. The total eclipse's main event has run its course, leaving an indelible impression upon all who witnessed its splendor.
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