Why This Total Solar Eclipse Will Be Cooler Than Any Before It

Millions of people will be able to wear Protective glasses and watch a spectacular total solar eclipse Monday, starting at 1 p.m. CT.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because in 2017, a 70-mile-wide swath of the United States experienced a total solar eclipse, while many other areas experienced a partial eclipse. People would drive across states and gather near planetariums just to see those fleeting minutes when, in the middle of the day, the sky darkened.

But next week’s total eclipse will be even colder, enthusiastic NASA scientists told reporters at an American Geophysical Union meeting in December.

“Those of us who have seen eclipses know that you want to see the next one,” Kelly Korreck, NASA’s program manager for the 2024 solar eclipse, said at a news conference. round table during a meeting.

She added that having one in such recent memory probably got many people excited for this year’s.

While total solar eclipses aren’t exactly rare, there are a few circumstances around this upcoming event that make it unique, from its path across the United States to an abundance of solar activity to a plethora of science projects that NASA and others have planned for the few minutes when the moon will appear to cover the sun.

More than 30 million people will be able to see the total solar eclipse

A cheerleader smiles while looking at the sky wearing eclipse glasses.

A young woman looks through special glasses at a solar eclipse.


There are three types of solar eclipses:

  1. an annular eclipse appears as a bright ring around the moon

  2. A partial eclipse only partially blocks the sun

  3. during a total eclipse, the moon appears to completely cover the sun

In 2017, the continental United States saw its first total coast-to-coast eclipse since 1918. Parts of 14 states were on the way, but populous cities like Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina, were not.

This year, more people will be able to see the eclipse without having to travel.

The path extends from Mexico to northeastern Canada.

Map of the United States with stripe showing the path of the total solar eclipse from Texas to Maine

A map showing where the moon’s shadow will cross the United States during the 2024 total solar eclipse.

NASA Science Visualization Studio

“This will be the most populated eclipse in the United States, with 31.5 million people able to just walk out of their homes and experience this event,” Korreck said.

Dallas, Cleveland, and Indianapolis are all positioned for optimal viewing of total eclipses.

The eclipse will last a little longer than the previous one

Depending on your location, you will have about 3-4 minutes to watch the moon obscure the sun.

This peak of the eclipse, called totality, will last slightly longer than the one in 2017, Korreck said.

U.S. residents who miss this year’s eclipse will have to wait a few more decades for a similar event. The next total solar eclipses visible in the neighboring United States will occur in 2044 and 2045, but none will pass through Cleveland or Indianapolis.

“You won’t have another eclipse for quite a while,” Korreck said.

An active sun should make for incredible viewing

In 2017, the sun was quite calm during the eclipse. As he approaches his solar maximumit spat solar flares.

Korreck hopes to see a coronal mass ejection during the eclipse. CMEs are high-speed blobs of plasma that erupt from the Sun’s corona, or outer layer.

“You would see this kind of inky mass leaving the sun at that time,” Korreck said. “So that would be pretty spectacular.”

solar eclipse

The annular solar eclipse is observed on June 21, 2020 in Xiamen, Fujian Province of China.

Huang Shan/VCG via Getty Images

If that happens, Korreck said the amount should be increased northern lights activity a few days later. Even if there is no CME, images could be more dynamic than in 2017, with more whip-like prominences radiating from the sun.

“It should be a very complex-looking sun,” Korreck said.

Balloons, rockets and citizen scientists will follow the eclipse

There’s a reason why solar eclipses are so important in the scientific community. “They give you the opportunity to do experiments that you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise,” Nour E. Raouafi, an astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins University, said during the panel discussion.

An eclipse in 1919 proven that of Albert Einstein theory of relativityhe said.

a group of people look toward the sun while holding pink eclipse glasses up to their eyes in front of a sand-colored brick wall in a desert landscape

People watch a partial solar eclipse in Diyarbakir, Turkey.

Sertac Kayar/Reuters

This will likely be the most observed total solar eclipse in history.

This is because NASA and other institutions will use radars, balloons, spacecraft and jets to carry out experiments and collect data during the eclipse. NASA wants to track changes in density, wind speed and temperatures at ionosphere – part of the Earth’s upper atmosphere – during the event.

Unlike the 2017 eclipse, two spacecraft scanning the sun are now circling our star. It’s an opportunity NASA has never had before: monitor the sun closely, from two different space observatories, while instruments on Earth study the eclipse.

This should provide scientists with more comprehensive eclipse data than ever before.

There are tons of them citizen scientist projects also takes place. NASA hopes people will use their amateur radios, telescopes, cameras and phones to record images, sounds and observations during the eclipse.

This story was originally published in January 2024 and last updated on April 4, 2024.


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