Mark Your Calendars: America's Total Solar Eclipse 2024

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Mark Your Calendars: Americas Total Solar Eclipse 2024

Save the date! On Monday, April 8, 2024, North America will be treated to a spectacular total solar eclipse. Many of you remember the 2017 Great American Solar eclipse that crossed the United States from the northwest to the southeast. This solar eclipse will cross the country from the south and head to the northeast.

Eclipse photographs © Todd Vorenkamp

Safety First

Do NOT view a solar eclipse with unprotected eyes. Permanent damage to your vision may occur. Special eclipse viewing glasses are needed to protect your vision. The protection afforded by regular sunglasses is insufficient. A total solar eclipse offers a brief period of time when the phenomenon can be viewed without protective glasses or equipment. Outside of that short time, or for an annular or partial solar eclipse, you need solar viewing equipment to view the entirety of the event.

What Causes a Solar Eclipse?

A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun in a path that positions the moon in front of the sun from our viewpoint. The moon, sun, and Earth are directly aligned.

The moon passes between the Earth and the sun on every lunar cycle (28 days); this is the “New Moon.” But, because the moon’s orbit is offset from the Earth’s orbit around the sun by 5 degrees, the shadow cast by the moon does not always fall on the Earth.

Depending on the orbit of the moon (its distance from the Earth and its path), an eclipse is categorized as total, annular, or partial. In a total eclipse, the entire sun will be obscured by the moon. An annular eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and sun but is too far away to completely cover the sun, resulting in the “ring of fire” effect. A partial eclipse happens when the moon only blocks a part of the sun. Partial eclipses are the most common.

Totality
Totality

Where Are the Best Places to View the April 2024 Total Eclipse?

Generally, eclipses happen a few times each year, but they are often only visible over the ocean or in remote areas. Like a total eclipse, the duration of an annular eclipse is short; therefore, the path of totality and/or a full annular eclipse is only viewable over a small section of the Earth each time it happens. However, you can still view part of the eclipse (appearing like a partial eclipse) from the areas to the right and left of the sun’s path across the Earth.

The path of the April 8, 2024 annular eclipse will pass through the Western United States, continue over Central America, and enter the Atlantic after a transit of South America. The narrow band shows the path of the full annular eclipse. The gray shaded section shows the area where a partial annular eclipse is visible. Image from the U.S. Naval Observatory.
The path of the April 8, 2024 annular eclipse will pass through Mexico, continue over the eastern United States, and enter the northern Atlantic. The narrow band shows the path of the full annular eclipse. The gray shaded section shows the area where a partial annular eclipse is visible. Image from the U.S. Naval Observatory.

The eclipse on April 8, 2024 will start in Mexico and transit the United States, passing over Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, New York, and Vermont before heading north through Canada and onward to the northern Atlantic Ocean.

The phases of a total eclipse
The phases of a total eclipse

Safety

AGAIN, DO NOT view a solar eclipse with unprotected eyes. Permanent damage to your vision may occur. Special solar viewing glasses are needed to protect your vision. The protection afforded by regular sunglasses is insufficient.

Solar viewing glasses are only for unmagnified viewing of the sun.
Solar viewing glasses are only for unmagnified viewing of the sun.

Solar Viewing Gear

The easiest way to enjoy the annular eclipse is with a pair of inexpensive solar viewing glasses. For those who wish to take in a magnified view through binoculars, a spotting scope, or a telescope, additional solar viewing protection will be needed. B&H also carries a lineup of dedicated solar viewing scopes and binoculars.

DO NOT view an eclipse through magnified optics using solar glasses!

Please consult our Solar Observing Catalog and our Solar Viewing Buying Guide for more information on what equipment you might want to use.

A telescope with solar filter attached.
A telescope with solar filter attached.

Photographing the Total Solar Eclipse

Yes! You can photograph this event… with the right gear. For more information on how to photograph a solar eclipse, please enjoy How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse.

Enjoy the show and let us know in the Comments section if you have any questions about eclipses or the April 8, 2024 event! 

For the quickest way to get your solar viewing and solar eclipse gear, check out our dedicated Solar Observing page!

3 Comments

Did you mean to include text and animation of the Oct 2023 annular eclipse in this post about the 2024 eclipse? It's a little confusing.

I noticed that too.  I hope B&H actually reads these comments and makes the necessary corrections to then article.

Thanks for pointing this out! We've updated the text to reflect the correct information.