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Total Solar Eclipse Promises to Be a Spectacle

NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
The first total solar eclipse since 2017 is happening on April 8, and the last one until 2044.

On April 8, 2024 parts of North America will have the opportunity to experience the first total solar eclipse since 2017, and the last one until 2044 according to NASA.

As the solar eclipse moves through North America, not every state will be able to witness this rare occurrence. There is a 115 mile wide path of totality which is where the actual solar eclipse can be seen, but this path only makes its way through certain states. If you are not in the path, you will still be able to experience the eclipse just not to its full potential.

The solar eclipse will begin in Mexico and enter the U.S. through Texas and then continue onto Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and finally end in Maine before entering Canada.

But what even is a total solar eclipse and why is it so special?

According to Mr. Bugel, an Earth and Space Science teacher at NASH,”What makes [Total Solar Eclipses] rare is that the Umbral shadow of the moon is only about 100 km in diameter. To see totality, a person must be in that shadow. With the Earth Rotating and the moon moving in its orbit around the Earth, the shadow typically only lasts for 3-7 minutes over that specific location.”

When the moon comes into the path of the sun, there is a bright ring that forms around the silhouette of the moon which is called the corona. This glowing ring is actually the sun’s outer atmosphere, which makes looking at the solar eclipse very dangerous for the human eye.

“Looking at the sun without protective lenses for 8 seconds can cause eye damage. During total solar eclipses, the sky begins to darken, the human body reacts by dilating the pupils. Just before and just after totality, there is a bright flash of light from the sun behind the moon. That bright flash is generally what can hurt most people’s retina,” says Mr. Bugel.

Stores, like Home Depot or Lowes, sell special glasses that are needed to safely view the eclipse. These glasses are 1000 times darker than normal sunglasses, causing the bright light to not affect the retina.

The last total solar eclipse that was able to be seen in North America was in 2017, but this one coming up is expected to be bigger.

To start, the average time that the solar eclipse lasted for in 2017 was only two full minutes, but the one on April 8 is predicted to last for as long as 4 minutes in some locations. Also, the corona on the upcoming eclipse is going to be bigger and brighter than the one that could be seen in 2017, due to the distance between the earth and the moon. In addition, the path of totality is about 70 miles larger than the path in 2017, which will allow for nearly 200 million more people to view the eclipse according to a study done by NASA.

Cities that are in the path of totality are expected to experience a huge wave of tourists for the eclipse. Hotels in Erie, Pennsylvania are already all sold out and hotel prices in Texas have risen nearly 10 times what they normally would be. Also, flights from Dallas and Austin, which follow the path of totality north to Detroit, are a popular option for viewing the eclipse from above the clouds.

Purdue University in Indiana, one of the locations in the path, rented the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home to the famous Indianapolis 500 race, and are planning on throwing a huge party, with games and activities, in celebration of the event. This all might seem crazy, but this is the first time in over 819 years that a total solar eclipse can be seen in Indianapolis.

When asked to compare an Eclipse to a major event, Mr. Bugle wrote,”I would compare Eclipses in general to watching the Golf Majors (PGA, Agusta, US Open and The Open Championship). Each one is spectacular but happens more than just once a year.”

There’s no doubt that April 8 is coming in with anticipation for many people as they patiently wait for a very rare solar event to unfold before their eyes, even if it will only last for four minutes.

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About the Contributor
Kyle Byrne
Kyle Byrne, Staff Writer
Kyle is a sophomore at NAI and this is his first year on staff! He enjoys playing tennis outside of school and plays for the school team.

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