Next year’s total solar eclipse is already prompting Americans and other travellers to organize their trip to witness the celestial event. After the total solar eclipse on April 8 2024, the next total solar eclipse that will be seen from the contiguous US will be in 2044, on August 23.
1. Path of totality
On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, United States, and Canada. A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon completely covers the face of the Sun. To see it, people have to be somewhere within a narrow path of totality, which will be about 185 kilometers wide.
Mexico, where the eclipse track reaches landfall near Mazatlán on the Pacific Coast, offers the best odds of favorable weather, according to Jay Anderson, a retired meteorologist with Canada’s weather service.
“The city I sort of identified as the most likely to have good skies [in the United States] is a place called Junction, Texas, which is a little bit toward the edge of the eclipse track in the Texas Hill Country,” Anderson told CNN. “But they statistically are in one of the areas most likely to have clear skies, but having said that, it still means that they only have about a 55% chance of clear skies on that day. So, you know, it’s no guarantee anywhere.”
Observers viewing the eclipse from outside the path of totality may observe a partial eclipse, where the Moon covers most but not all of the Sun.
While it remains uncertain whether viewers will be able to actually see the phenomenon, a lot of adventurous travellers are planning to drive for hours to have a glimpse of the cosmic event.
Experts have warned for the strong possibility of fierce traffic jams during that day. Anderson said he is aware of a number of travelers who have made motel bookings in several places along the path so that they have options just before the eclipse to seek out the best weather conditions and cancel the extra rooms.
“But you’re dealing with a hard-core eclipse chaser when you start making three or four motel bookings to have a number of different places to go,” he said.
Dave Clark, who runs the website NationalEclipse.com, urged interested people to book lodging now, while rooms are still available along the path of totality.
The longer people wait, the harder it will be to find accommodations inside the eclipse path. And the higher the rates will be as the hotels and property owners get wise to what’s happening.Dave Clark from NationalEclipse.com for CNN
Safety is the number one priority when viewing a total solar eclipse and NASA is already warning futures viewers to be prepared. Everyone must be carrying special glasses — “eclipse glasses” — when watching the partial phases of the solar eclipse, which happens before and after totality. NASA says it’s also possible to use an indirect viewing method, such as a pinhole projector.
Except during the brief total phase of a total solar eclipse, when the Moon completely blocks the Sun’s bright face, it is not safe to look directly at the Sun without specialized eye protection for solar viewing, NASA warns, adding that viewing any part of the bright Sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics will instantly cause severe eye injury.
However, when the Moon completely blocks the visible surface of the Sun during a total solar eclipse, viewers can remove their “eclipse glasses”. A total solar eclipse is the only type of solar eclipse where viewers can momentarily remove their special glasses. However, totality may last only a minute or two in some locations and viewers must be vigilant and swift.