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2024 Total Solar Eclipse Guide: Everything You Need To Know

The event of the decade will unfold over North America as the sun, moon, and Earth aligns to create a spectacular solar eclipse.

Only one year remains until the astronomy event of the decade unfolds over North America as the sun, moon and Earth align to create a spectacular solar eclipse for a few brief minutes.

Millions of people will see the solar spectacle for themselves, and eclipse expert Gordon Telepun told AccuWeather that there are several reasons why the 2024 eclipse will be seen by more people when compared to the most recent total solar eclipse over the United States.

“It crosses larger cities, people who experienced the 2017 event will most likely want to see another eclipse, and people who ignored the 2017 eclipse and heard about what they missed will make an effort to get to the path this time,” Telepun said.

San Antonio, Dallas, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Montreal are a sampling of cities located in the path of totality. People in some of the country’s largest cities, including Chicago and New York City, can drive just a few hours to get to the narrow zone where the total eclipse can be seen.

Anyone mulling over plans to see the eclipse should consider several factors, with weather prospects, the length of totality and logistics among the most important.

“Think about balancing these three major categories,” Telepun explained. “One category may have strong points, and another may have weak points.”

While making travel arrangements to observe the impending total solar eclipse, the weather is the most important factor to take into account. ACCUWEATHER

Here are the top three things to consider when making plans to travel for the 2024 total solar eclipse:

It is still too early to provide a precise cloud forecast for April 8, 2024, but by looking at past years, meteorologists have an idea of what the weather will be like on eclipse day.

Telepun said the weather is the most essential aspect to consider when planning a trip to see the upcoming total solar eclipse.

“If the weather prospects are horrible in a region with a long totality duration, there is no benefit to the long duration if you will likely get clouded out,” he explained.

Based on historical averages, Texas has the lowest chance of clouds spoiling the show. The risk of clouds on April 8 increases for areas located farther north and east, with the highest likelihood of clouds over northern New England and Atlantic Canada.

It is important to remember that this data is based on the average of many years and that the actual weather patterns next April could be significantly different than the historical average.

“No region of the path is safe from an ‘eclipse obscuring’ weather front,” Telepun said.

People adamant about having a cloud-free view of the eclipse next April should have multiple viewing locations in mind but wait to make a final decision on a viewing site until a few days before the eclipse when the cloud forecast comes more into focus.

The total phase of the 2024 eclipse will be much longer than the 2017 eclipse, but the exact duration will vary from one location to another.

In areas of Texas northwest of Austin and southeast of Dallas, the eclipse will last over 4 minutes and 20 seconds. Totality will be a tad shorter in the cities with it expected to last 3 minutes and 50 seconds in Dallas and 1 minute and 40 seconds in Austin. Meanwhile, the total eclipse will only last around 3 minutes and 50 seconds in Cleveland, and 3 minutes and 16 seconds in Burlington, Vermont.

In comparison, the 2017 eclipse lasted a maximum of around 2 minutes and 40 seconds near Carbondale, Illinois.

While the total eclipse will last for only a few minutes in a narrow zone, all of North America will experience at least a partial solar eclipse for several hours, with Alaska being the only exception.

Planning a trip to see the total solar eclipse may be challenging not only due to the looming question of the weather forecast but also the ability to find a hotel or place to say.

“There are already issues concerning available lodging for 2024,” Telepun said. “Some places are already booked.”

Just as important as traveling to the path of totality is having a plan for the day of the eclipse. Many people will be at their viewing site for hours. Onlookers will need food and drinks, proper clothing, bathroom access, shelter from chilly April weather and protection from sun exposure.

Traffic could also be an issue. “People travel to an eclipse site over a few days, so traffic before the eclipse is not usually an issue,” Telepun explained. “The problem becomes traffic after the eclipse when everyone is leaving on the same day.”

Immediately following the Great American Eclipse in 2017, some travelers quipped on social media that they were stuck in the Great American Traffic Jam as millions of people hit the highway, leading to nationwide congestion.

Traffic after a solar eclipse.
Bumper-to-bumper traffic in Tennessee about an hour after the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017. ACCUWEATHER

Eclipse glasses will be a necessity to look at the sun safely, so experts recommend that people purchase glasses now and keep them in a safe place. Due to increasing demand, it could be challenging to find eclipse glasses in the weeks leading up to April 8, 2024.

It is only safe to use solar filters that comply with international safety standards marked with the label ISO 12312-2. The American Astronomical Society has a list of reputable vendors so that people do not purchase counterfeit glasses that may not be safe.

While the weather prospects, duration of totality and travel logistics are the three most significant factors when planning for the 2024 total solar eclipse, there are a few other things to consider.

Capturing a breathtaking photograph of the celestial alignment is a goal for some, and it may be easier than many think.

“Other than the proper solar filter, most amateur photographers probably have most of the gear they need at home right now,” Telepun explained. He recommends photographers use a metalized glass solar filter for cameras, as well as a sturdy tripod that points high enough in the sky to reach the altitude of the eclipse. Telepun recommends camera lenses with an effective focal length of 600 to 800 mm (2.62 feets) (2.62 feet s) (2.62 feet).

“Importantly, you should not spend all of your time worrying about imaging and fail to save time to enjoy the corona with your eyes and binoculars,” he added.

2017 solar eclipse
Justin Lockhart, a photographer from Tacoma, Wash., wears safety glasses as he photographs the sun as it nears a total eclipse by the moon, using a medium-format camera and infrared black-and-white film, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. TED S. WARREN/AP PHOTO

Personal schedules will also be a factor for many families, especially given that it takes place on a Monday during the school year, as opposed to the 2017 eclipse that took place during the summer and the annular solar eclipse on Oct. 14, 2023, over the western U.S. that will take place on a weekend.

After 2024, the next total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous U.S. will not occur until Aug. 22, 2044, followed by another on Aug. 12, 2045.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

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