Total Solar Eclipse 2024: Path of Totality Map| Almanac.com

Total Solar Eclipse 2024: Path of Totality Across Americas!

total solar eclipse guide, where when and what to expect in 2024 total eclipse of the sun

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The April 8, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse will be a stunningly long eclipse with over 32 million people living on the path of totality. It will be the most-watched celestial event in our lifetime. Get all the details about when, where, and what to expect in Bob Berman’s total solar eclipse guide.  

Miss the 2024 total solar eclipse; your next chance in the U.S. won’t happen until August 12, 2045. Learn how often solar eclipses occur.

What is a Total Solar Eclipse?

Witnessing solar totality tops the list of nature’s most phenomenal wonders. 

During a TOTAL solar eclipse, the Moon completely blocks the Sun while it passes perfectly between the Earth and the Sun. A shadow is cast onto Earth, and the sky turns nearly as dark as night. 

The sun’s corona gleams a total solar eclipse in 2012 as viewed in Australia. (Credit: Romeo Durscher via NASA)

To me, the experience tops the list of nature’s most incredible spectacles. Most people are awed by a brilliant comet, which happens every 15 to 20 years on average. And also by a bright display of the Northern Lights. One might include the rare bolide or exploding meteor. But the very best of them all—number one—is a total eclipse of the Sun.

Yes, the total eclipse tops them all. Watching deep pink geysers of nuclear fire shoot from the Sun’s edge, you feel nature’s absolute climax has been attained. It’s not only an otherworldly experience, but also an incredible cosmic coincidence. How else do we explain that the Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun but also 400 times nearer to us? This makes the only two disks in our sky appear the same size! It would not be the case if either were larger, smaller, nearer, or farther away.

I’ve run astronomy tours for years, and half of the clients I’ve taken to see total solar eclipses have wept. Real tears. From the sheer emotional impact of what their eyes were beholding. Will a lunar eclipse make you weep? Will a peek at Mars through a telescope? No, they won’t. This experience manages to touch your very core. “The home of my soul!” is how Rita Marinelli described the solar eclipse she viewed with our group on February 16, 1980, from northeastern India.

NASA path of eclipse totality
Click to see map details. Credit: NASA

April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse Guide

The April total solar eclipse travels an impressive 100-mile-wide “path of totality,” a narrow ribbon that crosses northward out of Mexico to traverse Texas and other states before curving eastward to pass over Cleveland, Buffalo, Plattsburgh, NY, and Burlington, VT. Then, the Moon’s shadow heads rightward across northern New Hampshire and Northern Maine, even skimming parts of several Canadian provinces.

Not only do 32 million people live on the 2024 path of totality in the United States (versus 12 million people in 2017) but also tens of millions of people in North America live near the path of totality. This should be the most watched total solar eclipse in history, which is very exciting for all the school children and science geeks like myself.

How Long Will the 2024 Eclipse Last?

The maximum duration of totality along the April 2024 eclipse path will be 4 minutes and 28 seconds of total darkness. For comparison, the maximum length of totality for the 2017 total solar eclipse to cross the continental U.S. was just 2 minutes 40 seconds. 

Where is the 2024 Path of Totality?

The first task is to place oneself within the map of totality (see interactive map below). The path of totality goes from the southwest to the northeast corner of North America. 

The path crosses through Dallas, Little Rock, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Buffalo—with San Antonio, Austin, Cincinnati, and the Canadian city of Montreal lying just at the edge of the 120-mile-wide eclipse path. 

You’ll observe the glories of totality if you were in Cleveland or Burlington, Vermont, but not if you are in, say, Albany, New York. So, traveling into the path of totality is the most important thing you can do. 

Interactive Map to See Eclipse 2024 Path

Zoom into the Google map to see a local area. Use your two fingers to adjust the map.

A Partial Eclipse Doesn’t Cut It

Biggest mistake? It’s believing your local paper when it says, a few days ahead of time, “We’ll see the eclipse right here in Denver!” Staying home because you’ve read that “the eclipse will be visible from my backyard” amounts to blowing your opportunity because such statements nearly always merely apply to the partial eclipse. 

If you read the fine print and realize that it will only be a “90% eclipse” in your hometown, a partial eclipse, you might decide that that’s good enough. After all, the fractions 90% or 95% may seem close enough to 100% to seem a negligible difference, not enough to justify all that travel. Right? 

Wrong! Though many imagine that the main draw of a total eclipse is to experience darkness during the day, the actual wonders are a series of rare, even bizarre phenomena that materialize at no other time. A partial eclipse, even if the Sun is 99% blocked, misses the event’s heart and soul because the most amazing stuff happens solely at totality. 

People along the path of totality will see the Sun’s corona, or outer atmospheric glow, which is usually not visible due to the brightness of the Sun. The corona forms delicate magnetic lines that leap across the sky. And they will see the pitch black New Moon as it visibly moves in its orbit to intrude upon the Sun! And then there are the prominences—those astounding pink tongues of flame—as they fly up from the Sun’s edge! It’s like nothing else. 

If you’re outside the path, you will merely see a partial eclipse, which will simultaneously be seen from a much huger region. A partial solar eclipse is a common event and barely 1% as spectacular as a total solar eclipse. Solar eclipses are different. That’s because an avalanche of unique effects suddenly unfolds in totality. With a partial eclipse, nothing appears, because you then can’t look at the Sun at all without damaging your eyes. Instead, you’re looking through black eclipse glasses, seeing the Sun partially blocked out so that it looks like a crescent Moon. This goes on for a full hour and is the only thing that occurs if you’re not in the total eclipse path. See definitions of a partial versus total eclipse.

But is the partial eclipse interesting, at least? Well, sort of. You can personally answer this because you’ve probably already seen one or more, since partial solar eclipses happen every few years from all locations. Anyway, lots of things are interesting, but we’re not here for interesting. We’re steering our ship toward “amazing!” Toward “life-changing!” And for that you need totality.

When can you look at a solar eclipse? Read more in our article on eclipse eye protection.

Get Eye Protection in Advance

You absolutely must have eye protection for the long partial eclipse stage that leads up to totality, specifically a special super-dark filter bearing the international standard ISO 12312-2. 

  • Most such modern eclipse glasses are cardboard with floppy plastic filters. They deliver a nice orange image of the Sun but scratch easily, so be careful when handling them. See the American Astronomical Society’s guide for approved eclipse glasses.
  • Alternatively, recent studies by the School of Optometry and Vision Science in Waterloo, Ontario, and by Rick Feinberg of the American Astronomical Society, published in the September 2021 issue of the Astronomical Journal, supports the safety of welders filter shades 12, 13, and 14. These all safely allow 6.9 hours of continuous sun viewing. But no lower number shade is safe.

With my own eclipse tours, which date back to 1970, I’ve always supplied welder goggles. Now, with nearly a year’s advance notice, you’d have no trouble ordering as many as you’d like from your local welding supply store.

Time of Day for 2024 Eclipse

The TOTAL phase of the eclipse is bolded below. 

  • Partial eclipse begins: at 15:42 UTC (11:42 a.m. EDT) on April 8.
  • Total eclipse begins: at 16:38 UTC (12:38 p.m. EDT) on April 8.
  • Greatest eclipse: at 18:17 UTC (2:17 p.m. EDT) on April 8.
  • Total eclipse ends: at 19:55 UTC (3:55 p.m. EDT) on April 8.
  • Partial eclipse ends: at 20:52 UTC (4:52 p.m. EDT) on April 8.

Major Cities on the Solar Eclipse Path

Totality is a narrow path that crosses from Mexico through the United States to Eastern Canada. Here are some of the major cities which will experience totality:

chart of when the eclipse will be visible from various cities

Watch this video for a close-up tour of the Solar Eclipse across the map of the United States.

Detailed state-by-state information can be found on nationaleclipse.com and the Great American Eclipse.

What Happens During a Total Solar Eclipse?

Those in the path of the last US total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, know the marvels that arrive with a solar totality.  

Want to know more about the experience?  The 2024 total solar eclipse begins with an hour-long prologue for people in the right place. As the Moon slides between the Earth and the Sun, it does not cover the Sun. Rather, the Sun will appear as a crescent shape. 

This prologue is a “partial” eclipse; remember that a partial eclipse can only be safely viewed using eye protection. 

a partial solar eclipse
A partial solar eclipse, Washington D.C., June, 2021. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

A good idea is to put down your eye filter when the Sun has been reduced to a thin crescent, but only to view your surrounding countryside. Colors are saturated, shadows are stark, contrast is ramped way up. Look for dark shadow bands moving along the ground or on the sides of buildings. Ordinary objects like cars seem somehow unfamiliar, as if illuminated by a different kind of star than the Sun. It’s other-worldly.

As the Moon makes its final move across the Sun, you may notice points of light around the Moon’s perimeter. Called Baily’s Beads, they rays come from the Sun streaming through the valleys along the Moon’s horizon.

baileys beads in a total solar eclipse
Bailey’s Beads, Total Solar Eclipse of August, 2017. Credit: NASA/Gemignani

Right at the beginning of totality (and at the very end), you may see a single bright spot shine out. It’s called a Diamond Ring. Perhaps you can see why in the image below.

diamond ring in a total solar eclipse
The Diamond Ring from the August 2017 total solar eclipse. Credit: NASA/Thomas

When the hour-long partial eclipse ends, the sight through your filter will be pitch black. This means totality has begun and now you have up to about four minutes of observing the Sun directly or even through binoculars.

  • Look for the corona, the Sun’s outer atmosphere, which forms a glowing ring of light surrounding what seems like a black hole in the sky where the Sun used to be.
  • Observe the inky-black new Moon.
  • Look and listen for animals behaving strangely.
  • And be sure to look closely around the black Moon for pink prominences—glowing geysers of nuclear flame. These are often small and best seen through binoculars or a small telescope. Since pointing a telescope and having it accurately track the Sun is occasionally time consuming and you don’t want to waste a second, binoculars may be the best bet. Image stabilized models are the best of the best.

A note of caution: If you’re using binoculars, even one second of binocular use when totality is over can damage your retina. For maximum care, use binoculars for only a minute or less during the middle of totality. You’ll know from maps how long totality will last from your location. Say it’s three minutes. This means you can look at it directly during the first and last minute, and reserve binocular use for the middle minute.

Finally, beyond the mind-numbing natural phenomena of the corona, the prominences, and the odd lighting, there’s the magical otherworldly feeling that consumes all onlookers. It’s ineffably powerful. About half the people observing solar totality weep from the sheer beauty and emotional power of it. “The home of my soul,” is how one woman summarized the 1980 total eclipse from northeastern India.

But this time you don’t have to pilgrimage to India, or Australia like we did in 2012, or Libya like in 2006, or Chile like we did in 2021. Famed NASA eclipse predictor Fred Espenak told me he once ran panting at full frantic speed along a dirt road in Africa, trying and succeeding in keeping the eclipsed Sun visible through a tiny opening between moving clouds.

You won’t have to do that. The 2024 Total Solar Eclipse is right here at home. 

Find more information about what you will see at each stage counting down to a total solar eclipse!

Best Places to See the 2024 Eclipse

Will the weather cooperate with clear skies during the 2024 eclipse?

  • Looking at the eclipse map, the high-population northeast and upper Midwest is a tempting location where millions live. But long-term satellite data show these regions to suffer from 70% or greater cloud cover averages during April afternoons.
  • The clearest weather is in the Mexico section of the eclipse path, and it gets progressively less predictable as you travel the path north. But high crime rates there will make many gravitate to the next-clearest zone, which is Texas. You could try to book a hotel or B&B in a town in totality’s path close to the Mexican border up through central Texas.

See our eclispe weather article about the chance of cloud cover for cities across the U.S..

It might be a good idea to take the day off from work and catch this one! A bit of bother, sure. But the reward is nothing less than the most amazing thing you have ever seen.

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