april solar eclipse 2024

2024 Total Solar Eclipse – When is the next solar eclipse? Answered.

When it comes to astronomical events, nothing beats the splendor of a total solar eclipse. In ancient times, eclipses struck fear into the hearts of observers, and while that’s no longer the case, they still inspire awe and wonder for all who witness them.

On April 8th 2024, observers have the opportunity to experience a total solar eclipse for themselves. But what is a total solar eclipse? Where and how can you see it? And what should you expect?

Next Solar Eclipse: April 8th Countdown

Where Can You See April’s Total Solar Eclipse?

total solar eclipse april 2024 path of totality
credit: greatamericaneclipse

April’s total solar eclipse takes place on Monday the 8th, and it’s a special one for the United States. That’s because there isn’t a single location within the lower 48 states that won’t see at least a partial eclipse.

More generally, the best locations (in terms of duration and weather) are in Mexico and Texas. If you’re looking to travel, get to the south if you can (where the weather will be better) and get as close to the center of the path of totality as possible. The closer you are to the center, the longer totality will be.

The path of the Moon’s shadow starts in the south Pacific, just north of the Cook Islands’ Penrhyn Atoll. It then moves northeast, and passes south of Hawaii before making landfall just south of Baja California.

Mazatlan, Mexico is the first populated area to see totality, with a duration of 4 minutes and 17 seconds. 

The path continues to move northeast across Mexico, with maximum eclipse occurring in Nazas. Observers there will experience 4 minutes and 28 seconds of totality, longer than any other location within the Moon’s path.

Another notable location, Pedras Nedras, lies just on the border with Texas and will witness totality lasting just 4 seconds less than Nazas.

The eclipse then enters the United States, with the center of San Antonio lying just outside the path of totality. However, if you’re in the northwestern area of the city, close to I-10, your totality will last about 4 minutes and 24 seconds.

From there, it moves across Austin, Waco, the Dallas and Fort Worth area and Tyler. It skims the far southeastern corner of Oklahoma and then moves right across Arkansas, with Texarkana Little Rock and Jonesboro both lying along the path.

Southeastern Missouri is next, along with the northwestern edge of Kentucky (including Paducah) and southern Illinois. First to experience totality in southern Indiana is Evansville, with the Moon’s shadow then passing over Bloomington and Indianapolis before entering Ohio.

There it will pass over Dayton, Akron and Cleveland before moving into southeastern Ontario and passing over Hamilton. Observers in Buffalo and Rochester, New York, are also in for a show, along with those in Montreal and Sherbrooke in Quebec.

Parts of northern Vermont, New Hampshire and central Maine will experience totality, before the shadow moves into New Brunswick, where Fredericton and Summerside can be found along the path.

The last North American area to see totality is New Foundland, where observers in Channel-Port aux Basques, Stephenville, Gander, Clarenville and Bonavista are all in for a treat.

From here the path moves east across the Atlantic, with Greenland witnessing a partial eclipse and Iceland, Ireland and the northwestern parts of the UK being given the opportunity to see the start of the partial eclipse at sunset.

Locations in the Path of Totality

The table below includes all of the countries, states and cities where the April solar eclipse will take place, including the time the eclipse starts and finishes and the total duration, as well as the average cloud coverage for that area.

Town/City State/Province Country Eclipse Start Totality Begins Eclipse Ends Totality Duration Average Cloud Cover
Mazatlan Sinaloa Mexico 09:51 AM 11:07 AM 12:32 PM 4m 20s 28%
Durango Durango Mexico 10:55 AM 12:12 PM 01:36 PM 3m 47s 30%
Nazas Durango Mexico 10:58 AM 12:15 PM 01:39 PM 4m 28s  23%
Torreón Coahuila Mexico 10:59 AM 12:16 PM 01:41 PM 4m 09s 27%
Monclova Coahuila Mexico 12:10 PM 01:27 PM 02:51 PM 4m 24s 46%
San Antonio (Helotes) Texas United States 12:14 PM 01:32 PM 02:55 PM 4m 38s 53%
Austin Texas United States 12:17 PM 01:36 PM 02:58 PM 1m 46s 59%
Waco Texas United States 12:20 PM 01:38 PM 03:00 PM 4m 12s 56%
Dallas Texas United States 12:23 PM 01:40 PM 03:02 PM 3m 52s 60%
Fort Worth Texas United States 12:22 PM 01:40 PM 03:01 PM 2m 34s 49%
Tyler Texas United States 12:24 PM 01:43 PM 03:04 PM 1m 52s 58%
Texarkana Arkansas United States 12:28 PM 01:46 PM 03:07 PM 2m 24s 56%
Little Rock Arkansas United States 12:33 PM 01:51 PM 03:11 PM 2m 29s 57%
Jonesboro Arkansas United States 12:37 PM 01:55 PM 03:14 PM 2m 25s 64%
Paducah Kentucky United States 12:42 PM 02:00 PM 03:18 PM 1m 35s 66%
Evansville Indiana United States 12:45 PM 02:02 PM 03:20 PM 3m 03s 61%
Bloomington Indiana United States 01:49 PM 03:04 PM 04:22 PM 4m 03s 60%
Indianapolis Indiana United States 01:50 PM 03:06 PM 04:23 PM 3m 51s 60%
Dayton Ohio United States 01:53 PM 03:09 PM 04:25 PM 2m 43s 62%
Akron Ohio United States 01:59 PM 03:14 PM 04:29 PM 2m 49s 64%
Cleveland Ohio United States 01:59 PM 03:13 PM 04:29 PM 3m 50s 60%
Hamilton Ontario Canada 02:03 PM 03:18 PM 04:31 PM 1m 50s 61%
Buffalo New York United States 02:04 PM 03:18 PM 04:32 PM 3m 46s 64%
Rochester New York United States 02:07 PM 03:20 PM 04:33 PM 3m 39s 63%
Montreal Quebec Canada 02:14 PM 03:26 PM 04:36 PM 1m 27s 69%
Sherbrooke Quebec Canada 02:16 PM 03:27 PM 04:38 PM 3m 26s 78% 
Fredericton New Brunswick Canada 03:23 PM 04:33 PM 5:41 PM 2m 15s 75%
Summerside New Brunswick Canada 03:27 PM 04:27 PM 5:43 PM 1m 02s 70%
Channel-Port aux Basques NewFoundland Canada 04:02 PM 05:09 PM 06:15 PM 2m 46s 80%
Stephenville NewFoundland Canada 04:03 PM 05:10 PM 06:15 PM 2m 06s 79%
Gander NewFoundland Canada 04:07 PM 05:12 PM 06:16 PM 2m 13s 74%
Clarenville NewFoundland Canada 04:08 PM 05:14 PM 06:17 PM 2m 33s 80%
Bonavista NewFoundland Canada 04:08 PM 05:13 PM 06:17 PM 2m 54s 73%

*Data from Time And Date – https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2024-april-8

Other Major Cities in the United States

The table below includes additional states and cities were the April solar eclipse will take place, including the time the eclipse starts and finishes and the total duration, as well as the average cloud coverage for that area.

City State/Province Eclipse Start Maximum Eclipse End Obscuration Average Cloud Cover
Albuquerque New Mexico 11:16 AM 12:30 PM 01:47 PM 73% 33%
Atlanta Georgia 01:45 PM 03:04 PM 04:21 PM 82% 63%
Birmingham Alabama 12:40 PM 02:00 PM 03:17 PM 86% 60%
Boise Idaho 11:30 AM 12:30 PM 01:33 PM 35% 63%
Boston Massachusetts 02:16 PM 03:29 PM 04:39 PM 93% 61%
Charlotte North Carolina 01:54 PM 03:11 PM 04:26 PM 80% 58%
Chicago Illinois 12:51 PM 02:07 PM 03:22 PM 94% 64%
Cincinnati Ohio 01:52 PM 03:09 PM 04:24 PM 99% 61%
Columbus Ohio 01:55 PM 03:12 PM 04:27 PM 99% 61%
Denver Colorado 11:28 AM 12:40 PM 01:54 PM 65% 47%
Detroit Michigan 01:58 PM 03:14 PM 04:27 PM 99% 65%
Houston Texas 12:20 PM 01:40 PM 03:01 PM 94% 62%
Huntsville Alabama 12:42 PM 02:02 PM 03:19 PM 90% 64%
Kansas City Kansas 12:37 PM 01:54 PM 03:11 PM 89% 60%
Las Vegas Nevada 10:12 AM 11:20 AM 12:30 PM 51% 29%
Los Angeles California 10:06 AM 11:12 AM 12:22 PM 49% 41%
Louisville Kentucky 01:49 PM 03:07 PM 04:22 PM 99% 60%
Manchester New Hampshire 02:15 PM 03:29 PM 04:28 PM 95% 64%
Memphis Tennessee 12:37 PM 01:56 PM 03:15 PM 98% 60%
Miami Florida 01:47 PM 03:01 PM 04:13 PM 47% 65%
Milwaukee Wisconsin 12:52 PM 02:08 PM 03:21 PM 90% 68%
Minneapolis Minnesota 12:49 PM 02:02 PM 03:14 PM 74% 53%
Nashville Tennessee 12:44 PM 02:03 PM 03:20 PM 95% 60%
New Orleans Louisiana 12:29 PM 01:49 PM 03:09 PM 82% 55%
New York New York 02:10 PM 03:25 PM 04:36 PM 90% 61%
Orlando Florida 01:46 PM 03:03 PM 04:17 PM 58% 57%
Philadelphia Pennsylvania 02:08 PM 03:23 PM 04:35 PM 89% 63%
Phoenix Arizona 10:08 AM 11:20 AM 12:35 PM 64% 22%
Portland Maine 02:17 PM 03:31 PM 04:39 PM 97% 67%
Portland Oregon 10:33 AM 11:25 AM 12:19 PM 22% 77%
Raleigh North Carolina 01:58 PM 03:15 PM 04:29 PM 78% 55%
Richmond Virginia 02:02 PM 03:19 PM 04:31 PM 83% 59%
Salt Lake City Utah 11:25 AM 12:32 PM 01:41 PM 49% 63%
San Antonio Texas 12:14 PM 01:34 PM 02:55 PM 99% 55%
San Diego California 10:03 AM 11:11 AM 12:23 PM 54% 39%
San Francisco California 10:14 AM 11:33 AM 12:15 PM 34% 44%
Seattle Washington 10:39 AM 11:29 AM 12:21 PM 20% 74%
Tallahassee Florida 01:42 PM 03:00 PM 04:17 PM 70% 55%
Tucson Arizona 10:06 AM 11:19 AM 12:36 PM 70% 17%
Virginia Beach Virginia 02:04 PM 03:20 PM 04:32 PM 78% 52%
Washington D.C. Washington D.C. 02:04 PM 03:20 PM 04:32 PM 87% 61%

What is a Total Solar Eclipse?

total solar eclipse 2017

As you may already know, there are eclipses of the Sun, and eclipses of the Moon. Put simply, a solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes in front of the Sun, whereas a lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes through the Earth’s shadow.

This being the case, a solar eclipse can only occur when the Moon is new, and a lunar eclipse can only occur when the Moon is full.

Since we have a new and full Moon every month, you might expect to see an eclipse every thirty days or so – but that’s not the case. Why is that?

Why don’t eclipses happen every month?

The answer is a little complicated, but it’s due to the Moon’s orbit being tilted in relation to the Earth. If it had no tilt, then it could pass directly in front of the Sun with every new Moon, and then directly through the Earth’s shadow with every full Moon.

However, because it’s tilted, the Moon typically passes just above or below the Sun at new Moon, and just above or below the Earth’s shadow at full Moon.

To complicate matters, the Earth’s axis is itself tilted by 23 degrees, and its orbit is tilted by another seven degrees. This is why we have seasons; as the Earth orbits the Sun, one hemisphere is pointed toward the Sun and experiences summer, while the other is pointed away and experiences winter.

Every 18 months or so, the Sun, Earth and Moon align, and it’s possible to have both a total solar eclipse and a total lunar eclipse within the same month.

What are the different types of solar eclipse?

total solar eclipse frame by frame

In essence, there are four types of solar eclipse:

  1. Partial
  2. Total
  3. Annular
  4. Hybrid

Partial solar eclipses

partial solar eclipse

A partial eclipse occurs when the Sun, Moon and Earth aren’t quite in precise alignment. In this situation, the Moon won’t appear to pass directly across the Sun, but will be a little off-center instead.

Consequently, only part of the Sun will be obscured, with its disc looking as though a bite has been taken out of it.

A partial eclipse can occur instead of a total eclipse, or can be seen from a location outside of the path of totality.

Total solar eclipses

total solar eclipse

If you’re lucky enough to be in the path of totality, then you’ll see a total solar eclipse. In this case, the Sun, Moon and Earth are in precise alignment and the Sun casts the Moon’s shadow onto the face of the Earth.

As the Moon moves along its orbit, its shadow traces a path across the Earth, and anyone standing in that shadow will experience a total solar eclipse.

We’re extremely lucky in that we’re alive at a time when total solar eclipses can occur, as the Sun and Moon both appear to be the same size in the sky. This is due to the fact that the Sun is 400 times wider than the Moon, but is 400 times further away, and this distance essentially cancels out the size difference so that they both appear roughly the same size in the sky.

(Incidentally, both appear to cover roughly half a degree of sky; it would therefore take 180 Suns or full Moons to stretch from the horizon to the zenith, directly overhead.)

Annular solar eclipses

While the Moon’s orbit is tilted, it’s also slightly elliptical and therefore not perfectly circular. As a result, the Moon is not always the same distance from the Earth, and when it’s furthest away, it can appear slightly smaller.

When this coincides with a total solar eclipse, the Moon’s disc isn’t quite large enough to cover the whole of the Sun, and we see a brilliant ring of light instead. This is called an annular eclipse, although you might also hear it by its nickname – the ring of fire.

Hybrid solar eclipses

Lastly, on rare occasions, the curvature of the Earth makes it possible for a hybrid eclipse to occur. In this scenario, observers at the start and end of the eclipse path are further away from the Moon than those who are midway along. 

Those observers will see an annular eclipse, as the Moon will appear smaller and won’t cover the entire disc of the Sun. 

Observers midway along the path will be closer to the Moon, so it will appear larger and will cover the Sun entirely, producing a total solar eclipse.

What Can You Expect During a Total Solar Eclipse?

From start to finish, total solar eclipses can typically take several hours, and you may not notice anything different until a sizable portion of the Sun’s surface has been obscured.

The eclipse starts when the leading edge of the Moon first touches the leading edge of the Sun. This, appropriately, is called first contact. 

The Moon then moves across the face of the Sun, gradually obscuring more of its disc in the process. This is the partial phase of the eclipse, and it usually lasts about an hour and a quarter.

You probably won’t notice a drop in sunlight until about two-thirds of the disc has been obscured. At that point, your surroundings might start to look as though you’re wearing sunglasses, and this effect will become much more pronounced as the sun’s light is smothered.

If there are trees or bushes nearby, look at where the leaves are casting shadows on the ground. Do you see anything different? 

Under normal circumstances, the sunlight streams between the leaves and illuminates the ground, like the beam of a flashlight. However, during the partial phase of a solar eclipse, the sunlight is partially obscured, so rather than having a steady beam of light illuminating the ground between the leaves, you’ll see countless crescent suns instead!

Your surroundings will quickly grow darker as the sunlight diminishes. In the minutes before totality, you’ll also notice the temperature drop and an eerie silence fall, as the birds believe the night has come and fly home to roost.

You may also notice the wind picking up a little, and if you’re at a high altitude and able to look down on the countryside around you, you may even see the shadow of the Moon moving across the surface of the Earth toward you!

Then, the trailing edge of the Moon touches the leading edge of the Sun. Called second contact, this is the start of totality. You may see momentary bursts of light along the edge of the Moon’s disc – this is sunlight shining between the valleys on the Moon.

Next, you’ll see the Sun surrounded by a glorious, shining white halo of light. This is the Sun’s corona; it’s the outer atmosphere of the Sun and is composed of tenuous gasses that are normally invisible due to the brightness of the Sun.

Under the best circumstances, totality can last anything up to roughly seven minutes, with the average length being about half that. The eclipse on April 8th has a maximum length of almost four and a half minutes, so it will last longer than the average.

Take a moment to look up at the sky; you’ll see that the brightest stars and planets are visible, while the sky itself will show colors that are normally only seen at twilight.

Look to the right of the Sun – if you see a bright “star”, brighter than all the others, you’ve found the planet Venus. Draw a line through the Sun and Venus and you’ll come to Mars and Saturn, huddled close together toward the west. 

While both are much fainter than Venus, they’re still much brighter than any of the fainter surrounding stars. Mars appears coppery, while Saturn glows with a pale yellow light.

Look some way to the left of the Sun and you’ll find Jupiter. After Venus, it’s the second brightest star-like object in the sky and shines with a golden light.

Too soon, the leading edge of the Moon touches the trailing edge of the Sun. This is third contact, and it brings totality to an end. The Sun’s corona disappears, the sky and your surroundings brighten, the temperature picks up and the birds start to sing again.

From here on, the eclipse plays out in reverse, with the Moon retreating away from the Sun and the eclipse entering a second partial phase. Finally, we reach fourth contact, when the trailing edge of the Moon reaches the trailing edge of the Sun and the eclipse comes to an end.

How Can You Safely Observe the Eclipse?

There are several ways to safely observe the eclipse, but there are few key points to keep in point:

  • NEVER stare directly at the Sun, even during the partial phase
  • NEVER use regular, unmodified binoculars or a telescope to look at the Sun
  • It’s safe to look at the totally eclipsed Sun with just your eyes

Staring at the Sun can cause damage to your eyes, while using regular, unmodified binoculars or a telescope will burn your eyes and cause permanent blindness.

While it’s safe to look at the Sun during totality, it can still be dangerous during the partial phase. You can, of course, use solar eclipse glasses, but be sure to read the reviews and stick to those that are produced by well-known manufacturers of astronomical equipment (e.g., Celestron, Orion, Meade etc.)

Although the glasses are designed to be used during the partial phase, you should still exercise caution, as the Sun’s light can be dazzling, even through the glasses. Use them sparingly, and don’t look for more than a few seconds, especially if less than half the Sun is obscured.

There are specialized binoculars and telescopes you can buy, but due to the nature of the equipment, they can be expensive. Bear in mind that these are only suitable for observing the Sun, and you won’t be able to use them for stargazing later that night!

Do you own a telescope already? There may be a filter you can use to cover its aperture; this will block the vast majority of the sunlight and allow you to safely observe the Sun. Check with your telescope’s manufacturer or with retailers, such as Astronomics or High Point Scientific.

Another alternative that costs next-to-nothing is a camera obscura. This is a box (for example, a cereal box) with a pinhole that projects an image of the Sun into the box. They’re very easy to make and can be a fun project for kids. (You can find instructions on how to build one here.)

Lastly, you might want to take photos with your cell phone. During the partial phase, you can use the material from the solar glasses to cover your phone’s camera lens and take photos that way. There are also specific filters available that will do the same job.

(You’ll need to adjust your camera’s ISO and exposure settings to get the best results.)

During totality, you can use your cell phone as normal, but again, you may need to adjust the settings to perfectly capture the moment.

Final Thoughts

If you live in North America, the eclipse of April 8th is one that shouldn’t be missed. While totality will be reserved for a lucky few within the Moon’s shadow, almost everyone is guaranteed to see something – even if it’s just a bite-shaped chunk from out of the Sun.

If you have the means and are able, take the opportunity to travel to one of the locations highlighted above where you can witness totality for yourself. The Moon, stars and planets can be seen almost every night. Meteor showers occur throughout the year. Even lunar eclipses are more readily seen, but a solar eclipse is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience you will never forget.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I see the eclipse?

You’ll be able to see at least some of the eclipse from Mexico, anywhere in the lower 48 states of the US, and Canada. However, the vast majority of towns and cities will only experience a partial solar eclipse. If you want to see a total solar eclipse, you’ll need to be at one of the locations within the path of the Moon’s shadow (see tables above.)

How long will the eclipse last?

If you’re observing the total solar eclipse, then from start to finish, including the partial phases, the eclipse will last a little more than two and a half hours. However, if you’re only able to see a partial eclipse from your location, then the length will vary, depending on how much of the Sun will be obscured.

What will I need to see the eclipse?

You can safely observe totality with just your eyes, but caution should be exercised during the partial phases. Even when the Moon covers most of the Sun’s disc, the light can damage your eyes if you look at it for too long. 

Above all else, NEVER look at the Sun through regular, unmodified binoculars or a telescope, as this can cause permanent blindness. Eclipse glasses from a reputable manufacturer are safe to use during the partial phases, but even then the light can still be dazzling.

There are, of course, a multitude of resources available to you, but you may not know which ones are best. The following are a small selection of sites and software that I use.

Sites and webpages