Everything to Know About the Next 'Great American' Solar Eclipse
Seven years after an estimated 12 million people experienced the rare two-minute solar eclipse in 2017, dubbed the "Great American Eclipse," astronomy enthusiasts, who donned special glasses to see the event, can mark their calendars for a return appearance.
On April 8, 2024, the moon will block the sun for a maximum of 4 minutes 28 seconds as seen from within the track of the moon's shadow. That 120 miles-wide 'path of totality' will cross parts of Mexico, the U.S., and Canada in 139 minutes and will be known as the "Great North American Eclipse."
Although it's fun to experience some darkness during the day, the real prize when viewing a total solar eclipse is to witness when the moon blocks the sun to reveal its spiky ice-white corona.
To experience that incredibly rare moment in 2024 means being inside the 'path of totality' in Sinaloa, Durango, and Coahuila in Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and tiny regions of Tennessee and Michigan in the U.S, and Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland in Canada.
Below is some more insight from experts on exactly what to expect.
Is the 'Great North American Eclipse' Going to Be Busy?
The 2024 eclipse could be watched by 50 million people.
"There will be many more eclipse-chasers than in 2017," says Dan McGlaun, who runs Eclipse2024.org and has developed an incredible eclipse simulator, also on Youtube that shows exactly what you'll see on the day from 40,000 towns and cities. "2017 created a lot of eclipse-chasers and, besides, a lot of people will take the opportunity to see a total eclipse if it comes to them."
The geography of the 2024 eclipse also makes it easier to travel to given its wide path.
"About 32 million Americans live inside the path of the 2024 eclipse compared with 12 million in the 2017 path," says Michael Zeiler, an eclipse cartographer in New Mexico who runs GreatAmericanEclipse.com and co-authored the recently published Field Guide to the 2023 and 2024 eclipses. "The nation's densely populated northeast metropolitan areas of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago, St. Louis lie within a two or three-hour drive of totality."
Where Are the Best Places to Watch the 'Great North American Eclipse'?
There are some incredible places to experience totality, from Niagara Falls on the U.S-Canada border to cities including Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Dallas.
However, the biggest consideration when planning where to go shouldn't be geography, but the weather. The places with the best chance of clear skies during April are Mazatlán, Nazas, and Torreón in Mexico, and Texas in the U.S.
"Weather prospects for the Great Lakes and New England are less than desirable," says Zeiler. "Given the weather odds, Mexico and Texas will be the magnet for millions of smart eclipse chasers."
He also points out that while San Antonio and Austin are within the path of total eclipse, they're right on the edge of the path, so Texans living in those cities are advised to drive an hour or so to the north or west to get over four minutes inside the shadow of the Moon.
It will be worth it.
"The 2024 eclipse will be a different experience—the sky will get darker compared to the 2017 eclipse because of the longer duration," McGlaun said. "And oh my gosh, the second time really is just as cool!"
Jamie Carter is editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com and author of The Complete Guide To The Great North American Eclipse of April 8, 2024.