In August 2017, people across the Americas stood clutching their special eyeglasses and colanders, hoping to catch a glimpse of a pretty remarkable total solar eclipse. The celestial event had viewers hungry for more — but unfortunately, those in the U.S. and across North America wondering when the next total solar eclipse is will have to wait just a little longer.
What is a total solar eclipse?
A total solar eclipse is an astronomical event in which the new moon passes directly in between the sun and planet Earth. For a few minutes, those in the eclipse’s path of totality (the ribbon-like path across the Earth affected by the event) are able to watch the moon move in front of the sun, and soon completely cover the entire sun (except for the sun’s corona), momentarily plunging the sky into total darkness, as per Time and Date.
When is the next total solar eclipse?
The next total solar eclipse passing through the Americas will occur two years from today: Monday, April 8, 2024. That’s nearly seven years after the total solar eclipse of 2017. And the path of totality for the 2024 eclipse will be even more widespread than that of the 2017 eclipse.
The 2024 total solar eclipse path will be even bigger than 2017’s.
According to Astronomy Magazine, the 2017 eclipse’s path of totality spanned the homes of about 12.25 million people; the 2024 eclipse’s path of totality will cover the homes of around 31.5 million people.
The path of totality will begin in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, a city on the west coast of Mexico, at 10:51 a.m. local time, as per Space.com. The path of totality will travel northeast from there, and cross through many major cities, including Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio, Texas; Burlington, Vt.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, and Dayton, Ohio; Buffalo, N.Y.; Montreal, Quebec; and Little Rock, Ark., according to Astronomy Magazine and AccuWeather.
You can see an image of the 2024 eclipse’s path here, courtesy of AccuWeather:
Not only will the 2024 eclipse cover more area than its predecessor, but it will also be significantly longer. According to Wyoming Stargazing, the 2017 eclipse’s totality went on for 2 minutes and 40.2 seconds; in 2024, totality will last as long as 4 minutes and 27 seconds in southwestern Texas — which just so happens to be where the eclipse will make its first contact with the U.S., at 1:27 p.m., as per Astronomy Magazine.
How to prepare for the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse:
As Telepun told AccuWeather, “It’s two years before the eclipse, but it is not too early to begin making plans.”
That being said, after making travel plans and researching exactly what time you should be ready to look up at the sky, make sure to take the appropriate safety precautions. Though it’s safe to look at the sky when the sun is completely obscured during totality, you’ll need special eclipse glasses (or a colander!) during the other moments of the event, as per Space.com.
And if you miss the 2024 total solar eclipse, no worries — you’ll just have to wait until 2044 to see the next one!