The sun is about to pull another disappearing act across North America, turning day into night during a total solar eclipse.

The eclipse will allow many to share in the “wonder of the universe without going very far," said NASA’s eclipse program manager Kelly Korreck.

The moon will line up perfectly between the Earth and the sun, blotting out the sunlight. It will take just a couple hours for the moon's shadow to slice a diagonal line from the southwest to the northeast across North America, briefly plunging communities along the track into darkness.

The peak spectacle on April 8 will last up to 4 minutes, 28 seconds in the path of total darkness — twice as long as the total solar eclipse that dimmed U.S. skies in 2017.

Here's what to know about that event:

 

Who Will See The Total Solar Eclipse?

 

This eclipse will enter North America over Mexico’s Pacific coast, proceeding through Texas and Oklahoma, and crisscrossing the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and New England, before exiting over eastern Canada into the Atlantic.

An estimated 44 million people live inside the 115-mile-wide path of totality stretching from Mazatlán, Mexico to Newfoundland; about 32 million of them are in the U.S., guaranteeing jammed roads for the must-see celestial sensation.

Parts of 15 U.S. states are included in totality, although two states— Tennessee and Michigan — just barely. The main path in the U.S. starts in Texas, then moves into Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Major cities along totality include Dallas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Indianapolis, Cleveland, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; and Montreal.

Practically everyone on the continent will experience at least a partial eclipse. In Seattle and Portland, Oregon, for example, one-third of the sun will be covered.

Why is Totality Longer than in 2017?

 

By a cosmic chance, the moon will make the month’s closest approach to Earth the day before the total solar eclipse. That puts the moon just 223,000 miles away on eclipse day.

The moon will appear slightly bigger in the sky thanks to that proximity, resulting in an especially long period of sun-blocked darkness.

What’s more, the Earth and moon will be 93 million miles from the sun that day, the average distance.

When a closer moon pairs up with a more distant sun, totality can last as long as an astounding 7 1/2 minutes. The last time the world saw more than seven minutes of totality was in 1973 over Africa. That won’t happen again until 2150.

How Do I Safely Watch the Eclipse?

 

Special eclipse glasses are crucial for safely observing the sun as the moon proceeds across the late morning and afternoon sky, covering more and more and then less and less of the sun.

During totality when the sun is completely shrouded, it’s fine to remove your glasses and look with your naked eyes. But before and after, certified eclipse glasses are essential to avoid eye damage.

Cameras, binoculars and telescopes must be outfitted with special solar filters for safe viewing.

Bottom line: Never look at an exposed sun without proper protection any day of the year.

When is the Next Total Solar Eclipse?

 

Full solar eclipses occur every year or two or three, but are often in the middle of nowhere such as the South Pacific or Antarctic. The next total solar eclipse, in 2026, will grace the northern fringes of Greenland, Iceland and Spain.

North America won’t experience totality again until 2033, with Alaska getting the sight.

Totality for the 2044 event will be limited to Western Canada, Montana and North Dakota.

Aside from Carbondale, Illinois, coincidentally in the path of both the 2017 and 2024 eclipses, it usually takes 400 years to 1,000 years before totality returns to the same spot, according to NASA’s Korreck.

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