Where & how to see the upcoming April 8th total solar eclipse

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On April 8, 2024, the contiguous United States will witness its last total solar eclipse for the next 20 years.

The moon’s total eclipse shadow will cross the Rio Grande into Texas at 1:25 p.m. Central time and trace an arc through 15 states all the way to Maine before crossing into Canada. The lower 48 states won’t see another total solar eclipse until August 2044.

While many Americans are lucky enough to live in the direct path of the total eclipse, most will need to travel to see it. We’ve put together this guide on how you can safely see the eclipse, and how to find spots across the country likely to have the best viewing experience.

See a NASA visualization of the 2024 total solar eclipse

Video courtesy of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

https://youtu.be/wqcWiJiL5r4

Eclipse basics

Partial vs. total solar eclipses

No matter where they are in the continental U.S., members will see a partial solar eclipse, in which the moon covers some but not all of the sun. Cities that are close to the centerline of the eclipse but outside the path of totality, such as Houston and Cincinnati, will see the sun almost entirely covered. Cities that are farther away will see less coverage. Los Angeles, for example, will only see about half the sun covered at maximum partial eclipse. The partial eclipse lasts a few hours, depending on where it’s viewed.

Members who live in or travel to a narrow strip that stretches from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas across South, Midwest, and Northern New England will see a total solar eclipse, meaning the sun will be 100% covered by the moon—an event referred to as “totality.”

During a total eclipse, the sun’s corona is visible as wispy streaks.

Though the total eclipse will only last a few minutes at each location, it’s the most spectacular part of the event: stars are visible during the day, and it’s the only time the sun’s corona is visible to the naked eye.

Safe viewing

Proper eye protection is necessary to view a partial solar eclipse; even when partially covered, the sun can still cause serious eye damage. Regular sunglasses aren’t enough, either—those who plan to look directly at the partial eclipse should plan ahead and buy specialized eclipse viewers that use appropriate solar-filtering material.

Another tried-and-true method is to make a simple pinhole camera by poking a hole in a sheet of paper and letting the sun project through it onto another surface.

Many eclipse events have eclipse glasses and other viewers available, either for free or for purchase, but it’s always possible they’ll run out. Getting your viewers ahead of time ensures you won’t be left out.

Eye protection isn’t necessary during the brief total solar eclipse since the sun is completely obscured. However, viewers should take caution to ensure that the total eclipse has truly begun before removing protective eye gear, and be sure to put it back on immediately as soon as the total eclipse transitions back into a partial eclipse.

Where to see the 2024 eclipse

There are many considerations when deciding where to go to view an eclipse.

  • All else equal, lower elevations are better than higher ones, as they are less likely to develop cloud cover.
  • Check weather forecasts starting a few days before the eclipse. Cloud cover and rainy weather are very common across much of the U.S. in early April. If cloud cover is reliably predicted for your viewing spot, look for another spot with better odds of clear skies.
  • Because the moon’s shadow is a circle, viewing spots closer to the centerline of the eclipse path will see longer total eclipses. In Ohio, Toledo is on the edge of totality and will only see 1 minute and 53 seconds of total eclipse. Viewers willing to travel an hour southeast to Sandusky, however, will see a total eclipse that lasts twice as long: 3 minutes and 46 seconds.
  • Public gathering places such as parks and observatories will be crowded the day of the eclipse. Arrive early or seek an out-of-the-way venue instead. Expect traffic after the eclipse, too, as many viewers try to leave at once.
Total eclipse path data courtesy of NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio.
Apr 8, 2024 solar eclipse path

Kerrville, TX

Partial eclipse begins: 12:14 p.m. Central
Total eclipse begins: 1:32 p.m. Central
Total eclipse duration: 4 minutes, 25 seconds

Southwest Texas is the part of the eclipse’s path least likely to experience cloud cover. Though most of San Antonio is outside the eclipse track, and Austin will see a relatively short eclipse (about 1 minute and 43 seconds downtown, with a shorter or even no total eclipse in southeast Austin), there are many other options to choose from. Nearby Kerrville is very close to the centerline and will hold the Kerrville Eclipse Festival on April 8 with food, entertainment, and scientific speakers.

Looking for a hotel? San Antonio is your best bet—many hotels in smaller towns closer to the eclipse centerline, like Kerrville, have been fully booked for months.

Dallas, TX

Partial eclipse begins: 12:23 p.m. Central
Total eclipse begins: 1:40 p.m. Central
Total eclipse duration: 3 minutes, 52 seconds

While Dallas will see a somewhat shorter eclipse than Kerrville and has higher odds of being cloudy, the convenience of being in a major city is hard to beat. Many of the city’s attractions will be holding viewing events, including the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. If you want to see a longer eclipse, head southeast toward the centerline.

Good eclipse viewing spots in Oklahoma & Arkansas

Apr 8 eclip[se path

Broken Bow, OK

Partial eclipse begins: 12:28 p.m. Central
Total eclipse begins: 1:45 p.m. Central
Total eclipse duration: 4 minutes, 16 seconds

The total eclipse will only cover a small part of Oklahoma, but the small town of Broken Bow is well-situated. Not only is it near the centerline, it also sits at the intersection of Oklahoma State Highway 3 and U.S. Route 259, allowing viewers to easily relocate north, south, east, or west if necessary for weather. Then check out nearby Beavers Bend State Park for fishing, hiking, and canoeing.

Russellville, AR

Partial eclipse begins: 12:33 p.m. Central
Total eclipse begins: 1:50 p.m. Central
Total eclipse duration: 4 minutes, 11 seconds

Russellville’s position near the centerline and at a relatively low elevation between the Ozarks and Ouachita Mountains makes it one of the best viewing spots in Arkansas. It will be holding the Total Eclipse of the Heart festival April 6-8, with hot air balloon rides, music, and food. The festival also invites couples to “elope at the eclipse” by getting married by a festival-provided officiant moments before totality begins.

Good viewing spots in Missouri, Kentucky, & Illinois

Apr 8 eclipse path

Poplar Bluff, MO

Partial eclipse begins: 12:39 p.m. Central
Total eclipse begins: 1:56 p.m. Central
Total eclipse duration: 4 minutes, 8 seconds

Just off the Ozark Plateau, Poplar Bluff is at a below-average elevation for Missouri and has some of the state’s best odds for clear skies on April 8, though there’s still a real chance of clouds. The town will be holding an event called Total Eclipse of the Bluff, with viewing sites at parks and schools. Before or after, take the opportunity to explore the Ozarks in the Mark Twain National Forest.

Carbondale, IL

Partial eclipse begins: 12:43 p.m. Central
Total eclipse begins: 1:59 p.m. Central
Total eclipse duration: 4 minutes, 8 seconds

In a stroke of cosmic luck, Carbondale was on the eclipse centerline for the total solar eclipse in 2017 and is again for the 2024 one. Visitors at this “Eclipse Crossroads of America” can head to Southern Illinois University for an eclipse viewing event at the football stadium, plus science exhibitions and arts and crafts. After viewing the eclipse, explore Giant City State Park or head east to Shawnee National Forest.

Good eclipse viewing spots in Indiana & Ohio

Apr 8 eclipse path

Bloomington, IN

Partial eclipse begins: 1:49 p.m. Eastern
Total eclipse begins: 3:04 p.m. Eastern
Total eclipse duration: 4 minutes, 2 seconds

Indianapolis has the good fortune to be one of the few big cities that will experience a long total eclipse (3 minutes, 49 seconds), but Bloomington and its surroundings 50 miles to the south have lower odds of being cloudy. Indiana University Bloomington will be hosting viewing and festivities, including trivia competitions. Viewers in Indianapolis may want to keep an eye on the forecast and use Bloomington as an alternate if necessary.

Book a hotel in Bloomington with AAA and save

Cleveland, OH

Partial eclipse begins: 1:59 p.m. Eastern
Total eclipse begins: 3:13 p.m. Eastern
Total eclipse duration: 3 minutes, 49 seconds

There’s a high risk of cloud cover in most of Ohio, but Cleveland has an ace up its sleeve: Lake Erie and its immediate surroundings are often less cloudy than the rest of the state. Add in the events at Total Eclipse Fest downtown—including a performance of space-themed music by the Cleveland Orchestra and experts from Cleveland’s NASA Glenn Research Center—and the convenience of being in a big city, and Cleveland is likely the best viewing spot in the Midwest.

Good viewing spots in Pennsylvania & New York

Apr 8 eclipse path PA & NY

Erie, PA

Partial eclipse begins: 2:02 p.m. Eastern
Total eclipse begins: 3:16 p.m. Eastern
Total eclipse duration: 3 minutes, 41 seconds

The path of the total eclipse will only pass over the northwest corner of Pennsylvania. Luckily, Erie is close enough to the centerline to see a long eclipse, and it’s less likely to be overcast than Edinboro or Meadville to the south. Viewing spots at the shore of Lake Erie like Presque Isle State Park and the Bayfront District are likely to be popular; viewers who want to see the eclipse there should plan to arrive early and expect traffic.

Rochester, NY

Partial eclipse begins: 2:07 p.m. Eastern
Total eclipse begins: 3:20 p.m. Eastern
Total eclipse duration: 3 minutes, 38 seconds

While the eclipse’s centerline passes right through Buffalo, Rochester has better odds of clear skies and will see an eclipse only a few seconds shorter than Buffalo’s—Buffalonians may want to have it as a Plan B. The Rochester Museum & Science Center is marking the occasion with the ROC the Eclipse event with food trucks, telescope viewings, and special guests.

Good spots in Vermont, New Hampshire, & Maine

Apr 8 eclipse NE

Burlington, VT

Partial eclipse begins: 2:14 p.m. Eastern
Total eclipse begins: 3:26 p.m. Eastern
Total eclipse duration: 3 minutes, 15 seconds

The likelihood of overcast skies grows strong as the eclipse moves into New England. Vermonters have the best odds of clear skies in the Champlain Valley, either in Burlington or across Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, NY. Otherwise, given the lack of alternatives if both these spots are cloudy (and the lack of good options at all in New Hampshire), New England eclipse enthusiasts may want to consider a trip to one of the other spots on this list.

Greenville, ME

Partial eclipse begins: 2:19 p.m. Eastern
Total eclipse begins: 3:30 p.m. Eastern
Total eclipse duration: 3 minutes, 1 second

As with the rest of New England, eclipse viewing in Maine is likely to be a challenge as the path of the eclipse is through the sparsely populated north, which is almost always cloudy in April. Mainers wanting an in-state spot to pin their hopes on can look to Greenville on the shore of Moosehead Lake, whose cold waters may help hold back cloud formation—but it’s no sure thing. Depending on the forecast, Millinocket is another option.

Total solar eclipse: Path across U.S., safety, travel advisories, more

The 2024 total solar eclipse on April 8 will begin around 1:30 p.m. Central time in south Texas and travel northeast through 13 states, exiting the U.S. from Maine around 3:40 p.m. Eastern.

Truckers who have been on the road since at least the summer of 2017 may recall the total solar eclipse that occurred on Aug. 21 of that year, and the additional traffic it brought with it in the areas where the eclipse could be best seen.

That eclipse began in Oregon and traveled southeast over the next couple of hours down to South Carolina.

This year, on Monday, April 8, another total solar eclipse will cross the U.S., this time beginning in Texas and crossing northeast through Maine. It will be observable in the U.S. from around 1:30 p.m. Central time until around 3:40 p.m. Eastern time, with a duration of approximately 4 minutes and 27 seconds, varying based on location.

During that time, it will cross over parts of Texas, including Dallas; Oklahoma; Arkansas; Missouri; Kentucky; Illinois; Indiana; Ohio; Pennsylvania; New York; Vermont; New Hampshire; and Maine. During a total solar eclipse, the moon completely blocks the sun while it passes between the sun and Earth. The sky will darken as if it were dawn or dusk, and those standing in the path of totality may see the sun’s outer atmosphere (the corona) if weather permits.

According to a study of traffic patterns before, during and after the 2017 eclipse, traffic volume decreased two days before the eclipse, except for in Wyoming. Also, traffic increased after the eclipse and returned to normal after two to three days. Three hours before the eclipse, traffic significantly declined by 13%, and two hours post-eclipse, traffic increased by 13% from typical levels.

For this year’s total solar eclipse, AAA has issued a handful of safety recommendationsfor drivers:

  • Keep your vehicle’s headlights on
  • Put the sun visor down to block your view of the sun
  • Don’t wear eclipse glasses while driving
  • Don’t try to photograph or video the eclipse while driving
  • Don’t pull over to the side of the road, highway, or interstate to view the eclipse
  • Exit the roadway and park in a safe area away from traffic to view the eclipse
  • Be mindful of pedestrians who may be walking around with their eyes on the sky

For those interested in seeing the eclipse for themselves, NASA also has a resource of safety tips for viewing.

In preparation for the April 8 eclipse, a number of states in the path of totality are warning drivers of increased traffic as a result of the event.

As reported in December, Arkansas transportation officials called for a “truck holiday” to help ease potential congestion. The Arkansas DOT expects so many eclipse viewers will flock to the state that they will flood the highways, making the day “mostly unproductive for freight vehicles.” ArDOT also said it may limit the issuance of oversize permits on the days leading up to and immediately after the eclipse.

Officials in Texas are warning of “heavy traffic and sudden stops by drivers.”

In Kentucky, officials are warning of heavy travel delays, especially after the eclipse, in the western part of the state. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will open all lanes in work zones, where possible.

The Indiana Department of Transportation is recommending all movement of oversize/overweight loads be completed the day before or day after the total eclipse (Sunday, April 7 or Tuesday, April 9), as high traffic volumes and heavy congestion are expected the day of the eclipse.

In Illinois, I-57 is the direct interstate access to the path of totality. U.S. 45 runs through the middle of the path of totality. Illinois 1 and Interstates 64 and 70 will provide access to the area. All roads in and out of the area are expected to have heavy congestion in the couple hours after the eclipse.

Vermont officials have issued a Commercial Vehicle Traffic Advisory, “strongly urging commercial motor vehicle drivers traveling to and through Vermont on those dates to consider alternative delivery dates and routes whenever possible to avoid the expected increase in traffic.” Additionally, for April 8, the Vermont DMV will not issue permits for the movement of loads in excess of 108,000 pounds, more than 12 feet wide, or more than 100 feet long.

 

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