Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What day and time is the solar eclipse?

 A. The 2024 Solar Eclipse will be on Monday, April 8th, beginning with partial at 1:59PM, total at 3:15PM, and partial ending at 4:29PM.

Q. What are the different types of solar eclipses?                                                            

A. A solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes directly between the Sun and Earth. When the Moon completely blocks the Sun, it is called a total solar eclipse. When the Moon only blocks part of the Sun, it is called a partial eclipse. An annular eclipse is a special type of partial eclipse that happens when the Moon blocks all of the Sun except for a small ring around the edge. Sometimes a solar eclipse can appear as an annular in some places and a total in others as the Moon's shadow moves across Earth's surface. This is known as a hybrid eclipse.

Q. How long does a total solar eclipse last?

A. Total solar eclipses last anywhere from 10 seconds to about 7.5 minutes. In the span of 12,000 years from 4000 BCE to 8000 CE, the longest total solar eclipse will occur on July 16, 2186, and will last 7 minutes 29 seconds. Its path will sweep across Colombia, Venezuela, and Guyana. The shortest total solar eclipse happened on Feb. 3, 919 CE, and lasted just 9 seconds.

Q. When can I see the next total solar eclipse from North America? 

A. The next total solar eclipse visible from the United States occurs on April 8, 2024. The      path of totality goes from Texas to Maine and crosses the path of the August 2017 eclipse near Carbondale, Illinois. Calculations show that it will take about a thousand years for every geographic location in the lower 48 states to be able to view a total solar eclipse.

After 2024, the next total solar eclipse visible from any point in the contiguous United States will occur in 2044. Totality will only be visible from North Dakota and Montana.

The next total solar eclipse that will travel across the lower 48 states from coast to coast is in 2045. 

Q. How can I safely view the Sun at any time?

A. Indirect viewing methods are always appropriate to make observations of our closest star, the Sun. Using a pinhole projector will create an image of the Sun on any surface where you can see the progress of a solar eclipse. 

Using solar viewing glasses is appropriate for directly looking at the Sun. You can learn more about this from the American Astronomical Society. NASA does not approve any particular brand of solar viewers.

A properly fitted solar filter is essential to use any sort of magnification, such as for cameras, binoculars, or telescopes. 

Q. Besides getting dark, what can I expect to experience?

 A. In areas of totality, it will seem like nighttime has arrived midafternoon. It will get dark and the temperature will drop. Animals may be seen exhibiting nighttime behaviors. For example, bats and other nocturnal animals may come out, and diurnal animals may start to bed down for the night. You are encouraged to have students research these phenomena prior to the eclipse and to be on the lookout for them as you participate on eclipse day.

Q. Where do I go to watch the eclipse?

 A. has interactive maps showing locations and events for viewing the eclipse. If your school is in the totality zone, you can plan an eclipse viewing event there. 

For those who prefer an informal viewing experience, any open area is good. Plan to get there early and take your time leaving, as traffic is expected to be extremely heavy throughout the state. This is particularly true in totality areas and on major access highways into and out of the state. Traffic could remain heavy into Tuesday.

Q.  What does path of totality mean?

 A. The track of the Moon’s shadow across Earth’s surface is called the Path of Totality.

Q. Will the eclipse be visible if we have an overcast sky?

 A. Cloudy weather can obstruct or diminish the view of the solar eclipse, depending on the level and thickness of the clouds. However, there may be breaks in the clouds that allow you to see the eclipse briefly. 

Q. What are some important items to consider if I plan on attending the eclipse?

 A. Get eclipse glasses. Find a good location. If travelling, plan your route and prepare for extended delays.