Total solar eclipse on April 8. Here’s what you need to know.

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On April 8, for about four minutes, many Americans will have the rare chance to witness a total solar eclipse. The last time that happened in North America was 2017 – and the next time won’t be until 2044. The eclipse, which occurs when the moon moves in front of the sun, will pass through a more densely populated path than in 2017, letting more people watch the darkened skies from their own homes. 

When the sun is completely covered in the path of totality, viewers can remove their glasses for a few minutes and look directly at the sky. During this time, the temperature will drop, and birds will go silent. Depending on their location, some viewers may be able to see some particularly bright stars, or a 360-degree sunset. 

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Why We Wrote This

The total solar eclipse over North America next week offers a viewing opportunity that won’t be repeated until 2044. Eclipses not only are wonders, but also can play a role in helping us understand the cosmos.

Eclipses are a unique time for scientists to gather data. It allows them to observe the sun’s lower atmosphere, which is only visible during a solar eclipse, and to study “space weather,” which can sometimes cause electrical blackouts on earth. 

“Not everyone cares about this, not everyone’s gonna stop what they’re doing, but I believe the majority of the people will,” says Jean Stehle, a school librarian. “And I think it really speaks to the power of wonder and the natural world.” 

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On April 8, for about four minutes, many Americans will have the rare chance to witness a total solar eclipse. The last time that happened in North America was 2017 – and the next time won’t be until 2044. The eclipse, which occurs when the moon moves in front of the sun, will pass through a more densely populated path than in 2017, letting more people watch the darkened skies from their own homes. Eclipse watchers are also expected to travel to localities along the path. 

How can I watch the eclipse?

The stage in the eclipse when the moon entirely covers the sun, called totality, will last about four minutes. The path of totality, which starts on Mexico’s Pacific coast, will cross into Texas, slant across the Midwest, and end in Maine. All in all, 15 states will be in that narrow pathway, including cities like Cleveland and Indianapolis. Totality occurs at different times in different locations. In Dallas, it will start at 1:40 p.m. local time. If you’re in Burlington, Vermont, it will be 3:26 p.m. 

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Why We Wrote This

The total solar eclipse over North America next week offers a viewing opportunity that won’t be repeated until 2044. Eclipses not only are wonders, but also can play a role in helping us understand the cosmos.

The partial eclipse, in which the moon covers only part of the sun, will last a little longer than an hour. In this zone, NASA warns that viewers will need to wear protective eclipse glasses if they want to look at the sun directly, or use a special filter to observe it via camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope. The American Astronomical Society has a list of which glasses and filters are safe to use. 


When the sun is completely covered in the path of totality, viewers can remove their glasses for a few minutes and look directly at the sky. During this time, the temperature will drop, and birds will go silent. Depending on their location, some viewers may be able to see some particularly bright stars, or a 360-degree sunset. 

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