All you need to know about the Solar Eclipse!

The Stikky Night Skies team is getting ready for the upcoming solar eclipse. A solar eclipse is one of nature's most awe-inspiring phenomena and occurs when the Moon passes between the earth and the sun, temporarily blocking the sun's light. On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross the Americas, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

Where can I see the Solar eclipse?

To witness a total solar eclipse, you will need to be within the 115-mile-wide path of totality. The path of totality refers to the specific area on Earth's surface where the moon completely covers the sun, turning day into night for a short time. An estimated 44 million people live inside the path of totality stretching from Mazatlán, Mexico to Newfoundland, Canada. If you're outside the path of totality you’ll see a partial solar eclipse, where only a part of the sun is obscured by the moon, giving it a crescent shape. Check out this interactive map from the Planetary Society - enter your expected location to see what time the eclipse will start and whether you will experience totality, or, if not, what percentage of sun coverage you can expect.

How long will the eclipse last?

The whole event will take about two and a half hours. The closer you are to the center of the path of totality, the longer the eclipse will last. If you happen to be directly on the path, you’ll experience a whopping four minutes and 28 seconds of totality. A four-minute eclipse is rare and hasn’t been witnessed in the US since 1806.

What happens during a solar eclipse?

  • Partial eclipse. Starting about an hour before totality, you will see a partial eclipse as the moon slowly crosses in front of the sun.
  • Dark skies. As the moon obscures the sun, the sky becomes darker, eventually resembling dusk. You can expect a “twilight zone” of around 30 minutes before totality.
  • Unusual animal behavior. Nocturnal animals may think it’s time for their evening activities to start, so crickets and frogs might start their nighttime chorus, while bats and owls might emerge from their daytime hiding places. Diurnal animals might start their evening rituals, so bees might return to their hives and birds might settle in the trees.
  • Daytime stargazing. As totality approaches, bright stars and planets may emerge and give you a unique opportunity to do some daytime stargazing. Look for Venus to the sun’s right or bottom-right, and Jupiter to the sun’s left or upper-left.
  •  Drop in temperature. As the sunlight dims you will feel a noticeable drop in temperature, as much as 5 degrees C or 10 degrees F.
  • Baily’s beads. As the moon makes its final move over the sun, you might see what looks like a string of beads shining along the edge of the moon’s silhouette.
  • Total eclipse. During totality, the solar corona (the outermost part of the sun’s atmosphere) becomes visible. The solar corona is usually hidden by the brightness of the sun, but during a total eclipse, it emerges as white wispy beams of light radiating out from the sun’s surface.


What happens after a solar eclipse?

All of the events leading up to totality happen in reverse! 

Can I view the eclipse with the naked eye?

You can permanently damage your eyes if you view an eclipse without protection, and this means more than sunglasses or ski goggles. For safe viewing, wear solar glasses and place solar filters in front of viewing equipment lenses such as cameras, telescopes, and binoculars. This how to observe the sun safely guide tells you everything you need to know about safe solar viewing. 

When will I be able to see another solar eclipse?

The next total solar eclipse that can be seen from the contiguous United States will be on Aug. 23, 2044. Check out this calendar to see upcoming solar eclipses outside of the US.

Whether you plan to make a trip to the path of totality or not, this is an event not to be missed!

Photo Credits: Path of totality - Xavier M Jubier, Eclipse - Jongsun Lee, Unsplash, Solar Corona - Eclipse Chasers, Pixabay