Astronomy EssentialsTonight

39 days to total solar eclipse! Eclipses in fiction


A total solar eclipse will cross North America on April 8, 2024. After this event, we won’t have another total solar eclipse crossing the contiguous U.S. until 2045! So we’re counting down the days to eclipse day! In this episode, join Kelly Kizer Whitt as she recounts eclipses depicted by famous writers. P.S. If you like our videos, please share them and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Watch the full Countdown to Eclipse series.

Total solar eclipse

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.
Note: The instant of greatest eclipse – when the axis of the moon’s shadow cone passes closest to Earth’s center – takes place at 18:17 UTC (2:17 p.m. EDT). It’s a relatively long total eclipse with a duration of totality lasting 4.47 minutes.

Remember that the number one rule for solar eclipse observing is to make sure you protect your eyes by using an appropriate filter.

Need eclipse glasses? Get ’em here, but order soon!

Don’t miss the great eclipse maps below.

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Animation showing moon's shadow, with black dot in center, moving across rotating Earth along a yellow line.
April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse, as seen from the moon’s vantage point. The moon’s large penumbral shadow is lightly shaded and is outlined with a solid black edge. A partial eclipse is visible from within this penumbra. A total eclipse is visible along the yellow line. Animation by Fred Espenak and Michael Zeiler.

Moon, constellation, Saros

Greatest eclipse takes place one day after the moon reaches perigee, its closest point to Earth for the month. During the April 8, 2024, eclipse, the sun is located in the direction of the constellation Aries.

This eclipse has a magnitude of 1.0566.

The Saros catalog describes the periodicity of eclipses. The eclipse belongs to Saros 139. It is number 30 of 71 eclipses in the series. All eclipses in this series occur at the moon’s ascending node. The moon moves southward with respect to the node with each succeeding eclipse in the series.

Cities where the total solar eclipse is visible

Two-column table with 20 cities in Mexico, US, and Canada listed.
Cities where the partial solar eclipse of April 8, 2024, is visible, via timeanddate.com.

Next eclipse and eclipse seasons

The total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024, is preceded two weeks earlier by a penumbral lunar eclipse on March 24, 2024.

These eclipses all take place during a single eclipse season.

An eclipse season is an approximate 35-day period during which it’s inevitable for at least two (and possibly three) eclipses to take place. The next eclipse season has three eclipses: September 17-18, October 2 and October 17, 2024.

Maps and data

Find maps and eclipse timings below. Remember to convert UTC to your time.

Total solar eclipse: Map of Americas with parallel lines crossing North America from southwest to northeast.
A map for the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. It sweeps across North America, Mexico and eastern Canada. You must protect your eyes to watch even the partial phases of any solar eclipse. Note the difference between UTC and TD (terrestrial dynamical time, often abbreviated TT as well). Key to solar eclipse maps here. Image via Fred Espenak.

Timeanddate.com: to get the exact timing of the eclipse from your location.
Orthographic Map: detailed global map of eclipse visibility.
Google Map: interactive map of the eclipse path.
Path Table: coordinates of the central line and path limits.
Circumstances Table: eclipse times for hundreds of cities.
Saros 139 Table: data for all eclipses in the Saros series.
Additional tables and data.

Brightly colored covers of 3 large-format books.
Thank you, Fred Espenak, for granting permission to reprint this article. For the best in eclipse info – from an expert – visit Fred’s publications page.

Here is what a total solar eclipse looks like

A black circle with light radiating from behind it and brilliant spots on the top edge.
This image of a total solar eclipse is from NASA’s livestream on December 4, 2021.

Eclipse maps from Great American Eclipse

Michael Zeiler of GreatAmericanEclipse.com has generously given us permission to share his eclipse maps for the total solar eclipse. Here you can get a better idea of where you’ll want to be and when to see this unique phenomenon.

Map of North America with parallel lines annotated with the percent of the sun that will be hidden during the eclipse.
This map shows how much of the sun will be in eclipse by location on April 8, 2024. Image via GreatAmericanEclipse.com.
Map of U.S. with path of eclipse plus little sun icons showing how deep the eclipse will be at different locations.
Everyone in the contiguous United States will see at least a partial eclipse on April 8, 2024. But those in a swath that extends from Texas to Maine will see a total eclipse. Image via GreatAmericanEclipse.com.
Map of North America with path of total eclipse and names of many cities inside the path.
View larger. | This is the path of totality for the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, containing the names of cities inside the path of totality. Keep in mind, however, that the cities on the edges of the path will see totality for just seconds, while those at the centerline will see totality for up to up to 4 1/2 minutes the farther south they are. The centerline at the northern end of the eclipse will see totality for just under 4 minutes. Image via GreatAmericanEclipse.com.

Which location is closest to you?

Map of US with roads in color leading from very many locations all over the country to the path of totality.
View larger. | If you live in the contiguous United States, this map shows you the closest location you’d need to drive to in order to see the total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024. Image via GreatAmericanEclipse.com.

Maps for the timing of the eclipse

Map of North America and path of eclipse with duration times embedded in the path.
View larger. | It’s not only important to be under the path of totality for the total solar eclipse, but you want to be as close to the centerline as possible as well. That makes the difference between seeing the total solar eclipse for just seconds, versus seeing the total eclipse for more than 4 minutes, depending on your location. Image via GreatAmericanEclipse.com.
Map of U.S. with path of totality crossed by lines annotated with times.
View larger. | This map shows the time that partial phase begins for the eclipse on April 8, 2024. Image via GreatAmericanEclipse.com.
Map of U.S. with path of total eclipse and lines crossing it labeled with times of greatest eclipse.
View larger. | This map shows the moment of greatest eclipse by location. For those in the path of totality, it shows the mid-point of the total eclipse, and for those outside totality, it shows the time when the sun will be most covered by the moon. Image via GreatAmericanEclipse.com.

How long will the eclipse last?

Map of U.S. with path of eclipse in colors indicating how long totality will be - longer on south end.
View larger. | The total solar eclipse only falls along a narrow path across the United States on April 8, 2024. And the farther south you are on the track of totality, the longer the duration of totality. Image via GreatAmericanEclipse.com.
Map of the U.S. showing path of totality and times in minutes and seconds for locations along the path.
View larger. | If you are on the centerline of the track of totality for the April 8, 2024, solar eclipse, you will experience an eclipse that is about 30 seconds longer near the U.S.-Mexican border than up by the U.S.-Canadian border. Image via GreatAmericanEclipse.com.

Read more: Total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024, from Michael Zeller

Watch the full Countdown to Eclipse series.

Bottom line: We’re counting down to the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse, which will cross North America. Join us for a countdown! February 29, 2024, is 39 days until eclipse day. Join Kelly Kizer Whitt as she shares some of the most famous depictions of total solar eclipses in fiction.

Read more from EarthSky: Tides, and the pull of the moon and sun

See photos of the December 2021 solar eclipse

EarthSky’s monthly planet guide: Visible planets and more

Posted 
February 29, 2024
 in 
Astronomy Essentials

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