ACROSS AMERICA — It won’t happen for another couple of years, but it’s not too soon to plan for the 2024 total solar eclipse that will darken the sun for a few minutes in more than a dozen states exactly one year from Friday.
So mark this date — Monday, April 8, 2024 — on your calendar, especially if you’re among about 32 million people Forbes estimates live in the path of 100 percent totality. That’s portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Maine, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
A total solar eclipse takes place when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the sun. Areas farther away from the path of totality will see a less-dramatic blockage of the sun.
The upcoming event is dubbed the Great North American Eclipse, a riff off the 2017 Great American Eclipse in which Americans from one coast to the other basked in the subdued sunlight with picnics, watch parties and even solar eclipse weddings. To show how frenzied the run-up was, 1970s Welsh pop star Bonnie Tyler reprised her “Total Eclipse of the Sun” at the exact the moment the sun fell under the moon’s shadow on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.
You get the idea. This is going to be epic.
Here are five things to know about the 2024 eclipse:
1. More People Will Experience Totality
The 2017 eclipse was legitimately the star party of a lifetime because it plunged parts of each of the lower 48 states in at least partial daytime darkness. The 2024 eclipse could be more dramatic because the number of people in the path of totality is more than double the 12.25 million people in the path of totality in 2017.
“The path of the 2024 eclipse across North America is exciting,” Gordon Telepun, an expert eclipse photographer, told AccuWeather. “It crosses more large cities than the 2017 path.”
Some of those include:
Little Rock, Arkansas
Buffalo, New York
Also, major cities such as San Antonio, Texas, St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit and Pittsburgh are just a short drive away from the path of totality, AccuWeather points out.
3. The 2024 Eclipse May, Ahem, Outshine 2017
At 120 miles wide as totality starts and 100 miles as it departs, the 2024 eclipse will be almost twice as wide as the 2017 eclipse, which was between 60 and 70 miles wide, according to Forbes.
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It will also last longer. The maximum totality in 2017 was 2 minutes and 41 seconds in Curulean, Kentucky. In 2024, people watching the eclipse from Eagle Pass, Texas, located along the U.S.-Mexico border, will experience 4 minutes and 26 seconds of totality.
3. It Won’t Happen Again Soon
In the United States, April 8, 2024, will be the last chance to see a total solar eclipse until Aug. 22, 2044. It will occur in a sparsely populated area of the country in Montana and the Dakotas.
A year later, on Aug. 12, 2045, people from California to Florida will be in the path of totality.
4. Moon Shadow Chasers Should Prepare Now
Again, the eclipse is two years away. But if the nation’s supply chain woes have proved anything, it’s that things you thought you could count on picking up relatively easily suddenly become as hard to find as toilet paper was at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Add to that the difficulty in finding eclipse glasses in 2017. You shouldn’t wait too long to procure the protective eyewear if you’re planning to chase the moon’s shadow. The American Astronomical Society has a list of vendors whose eclipse glasses have been certified as safe.
Solar eclipse tourism proved to be a huge revenue boost in areas located in the path of totality in 2017, bringing in millions of dollars for travel, lodging, food and shopping during the days leading up to the eclipse. And like solar glasses, hotel rooms went fast in 2017 and likely will so again.
Several travel groups and online booking sites offer solar eclipse tours. As with any online site, vet it before you book.
5. Total Eclipses Aren’t That Rare
Solar eclipses occur about once every 18 months, and they’re visible from at least some place on Earth. But it would take a millennium for every geographic location in the continental U.S. to see the phenomenon, according to NASA.