Solar eclipse 2024: What time does it start; will I be able to see it; glasses; livestream

Those in the roughly 2575-mile path will see a total solar eclipse – meaning that they will go into total darkness as the moon moves in between the sun and the Earth.

On April 8, some 31 million residents in 15 U.S. states will be treated to an event as old as the planet when a solar eclipse will cut across a good portion of the country.

>> Read more trending news

Those in the roughly 2,575-mile path will see a total solar eclipse -- meaning that they will go into total darkness as the moon moves in between the sun and the Earth.

What will it look like where you are? How do you look at it? Can you take photos? Where do you get solar glasses?

Here’s what you need to know about the 2024 eclipse.

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse happens when the moon lines up between the Earth and the sun as the Earth revolves around the sun. The moon blocks the sun’s light from reaching the Earth.

Doesn’t the moon move between the Earth and the sun every month?

Yes, but we don’t have solar eclipses every month because the moon’s orbit is tilted by about 5 degrees, with respect to the Earth’s orbit around the sun. It’s only when the Earth, the sun and the moon line up just right that you have an eclipse.

When is the solar eclipse?

The eclipse will happen on April 8.

What time will the eclipse start?

The totality, or the moment the sun is blocked out by the moon, will first reach Del Rio, Texas, at 1:27 p.m. CDT and then trace a line across the state and northeast across the country. Totality will last from a few seconds to about 4.5 minutes depending on where you are along the path.

Which states will be able to see the total blackout of the sun?

The total eclipse will begin in Texas and travel into Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The eclipse will also be seen in some areas of Tennessee and Michigan.

How long will it take to move across the US?

In the U.S., totality will begin in Texas at 1:27 pm CDT and will end in Maine at 3:35 pm EDT.

How fast will the shadow be moving?

According to the Great American Eclipse, when the totality hits Texas, the moon’s shadow will be moving at 1,567 mph. The eclipse moves at different speeds across the country because of the curvature of the Earth.

When totality makes it to St. Louis, it will be going at 1,855 mph.

By the time it is seen along the Eastern Seaboard, it will be traveling at more than 2,700 mph.

How wide is the swath of the eclipse?

The width of the totality, the area in which the moon totally blocks out the sun’s rays, is about 115 miles.

What will happen during the eclipse?

Whether you are in the area of a partial eclipse or in the strip of totality, as the moon moves between the Earth and the sun, the sky will gradually begin to darken.

If you are in the area of totality, the sky will grow dark as if it were nighttime, stars will appear and the temperature will drop.

As it begins to darken, you will see something called Baily’s Beads, the jagged edge of the lunar surface illuminated by the backlighting sun. In a little while, the light from the sun will brighten and concentrate on one edge of the moon and create an effect that looks like a diamond ring.

Once the diamond ring disappears, the sun will be covered by the moon and you can safely look at it. But you’ll have to be careful not to look too long. The effect lasts only minutes before the process begins again, but in reverse – Bailey’s Beads, the diamond ring effect, then the sun again.

When is the next total solar eclipse that Americans can see?

The next total solar eclipse that can be seen from the contiguous United States will occur on Aug. 23, 2044.

What if I’m not in the area of totality?

If you can’t be in the path of totality for a solar eclipse, you can still see a partial eclipse. The partial phases of the eclipse (when the moon only partially blocks the sun) will be visible throughout all 48 contiguous U.S. states. Those seeing the partial eclipse will see between 20% to 99% coverage of the sun by the moon, depending on where you are viewing the eclipse.

I understand it is dangerous to look at the sun. Will I go blind if I look at the sun during the eclipse?

It is dangerous to look at the sun at any time. The light from the sun can damage the retina in your eye. If you want to watch the eclipse, you need the proper glasses to do so.

Also, there are only certain times when you can look directly at the sun during an eclipse.

Here’s what NASA says about looking at an eclipse:

“When watching a partial eclipse you must wear eclipse glasses at all times if you want to face the sun, or use an alternate indirect method. This also applies during a total eclipse up until the time when the sun is completely blocked.

During the short time when the moon completely obscures the sun – known as the period of totality -- it is safe to look directly at the star, but you must know when to take off and put back on your glasses.”

Where can I get eclipse glasses?

The American Astronomical Society offers this list of vendors of solar filters and viewers.

Make sure you get glasses that are safe for directly viewing the sun. They should indicate they are compliant with ISO 12312-2. The ISO logo will be on the glasses or on the box they come in. According to the AAS, “alarming reports of potentially unsafe eclipse viewers (are) flooding the market.”

Again, refer to the AAS list (above).

Can you photograph an eclipse?

Yes, you can, provided you have a solar filter to protect your eyes and the camera. Click here for tips on how to photograph an eclipse.

You can also use your smartphone, but you won’t likely get too many shots that are any good. However, there are some attachments that you can get that will help with that.

Check out NASA’s tips for photographing the eclipse with a smartphone.

What will the weather be like?

If the weather is good, you should be ok to see the eclipse fine. Below is a forecast for the weather on April 8 in your area.


Comments on this article