Seeing a solar eclipse is one of the most impressive and rare space tourism experiences on Earth. Following the 2017 solar eclipse across the U.S., traveling to see an eclipse is an increasingly popular activity for those of us who love space here on Earth. Luckily, there’s a solar eclipse coming up on April 8, 2024; they’re not calling this one the “Great American Eclipse” as they did in 2017, but it’s a darn good one all the same!
If you’re curious about the next solar eclipse, this post has everything you need to know. I cover the basics of eclipses, when and where you can see the eclipse – and how to travel to each destination. We also cover eclipse viewing basics and give a teaser of the 2024 total solar eclipse!
Are you ready to plan your next solar eclipse experience? Dive into this post!
This post was originally published in 2018 and was updated most recently in January 2024.
What is a Solar Eclipse?
If you’re not familiar with the science behind a solar eclipse, that’s okay – you can still enjoy seeing one even if you’re not an astronomer or astrophysicist!
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth. This causes two shadows to fall on the earth – the moon’s shadows – also called the umbra and the penumbra. The path of the penumbra on the earth creates a partial solar eclipse; for a total solar eclipse, the path of the umbra creates “totality,” where the sun is completely blocked by the moon. During an annular solar eclipse, this path is called “annularity.”
What Kind of Solar Eclipse?
Wait… Total? Annular? What? There are different kinds of eclipses. Here’s a quick breakdown.
The next solar eclipse is a total solar eclipse, where the sun is completely blocked by the moon. This is in contrast to an annular solar eclipse where the moon doesn’t completely block the light and will cover the sun in an o-shape, or a partial eclipse, where only part of the sun is obscured (like a cookie with a bite taken out):
This next eclipse is a total eclipse; learn more about the types of solar eclipses if you’re curious.
Important Details of the Solar Eclipse in 2024
Curious about when and where the 2024 solar eclipse is happening? Read on to learn all the logistics of this eclipse, plus tips on how you can travel and safely view the eclipse.
When Will the Total Solar Eclipse Occur?
The total solar eclipse will occur on April 8, 2024 from 15:42 UTC to 20:52 UTC. The maximum of the eclipse will occur at 18:17 UTC.
This window of time reflects how long the entire planet will see the eclipse – not how long you’ll be able to see it in any given location. As you’ll see, this eclipse is actually barely visible on any part of the earth that’s inhabited – which means that most of us won’t see any total/partial eclipse – unless you have already planned ahead!
Where will the Total Solar Eclipse Be Visible?
In summary: the April 8, 2024, total eclipse is visible across almost all of North America, as well as Central America, Greenland, and the far western parts of Europe. The path of darkest orange on the map above shows the path of totality; all of the rest of the highlighted map will experience a partial solar eclipse.
If you are planning to view the eclipse from within the path of totality, you won’t need eye protection during totality itself; everyone will need eye protection during the partial phases of the eclipse, and if you aren’t in the path of totality, you’ll need eye protection for the entirety of the solar eclipse.
I have put together a few additional guides for this eclipse that will help you understand which parts of the U.S. are in the path of totality:
- Which U.S. States are in the Path of the 2024 Solar Eclipse?
- 9 National Parks in the Path of the 2024 Solar Eclipse
- 7 Big U.S. Cities in the Path of the 2023 Solar Eclipse
Tips for Viewing a Solar Eclipse
With all the preparation it takes to see the April 2024 total solar eclipse, you might not have thought about how to actually view the eclipse! Don’t worry, we’ve got that covered too.
Safety Warning: Protect Your Eyes During the Solar Eclipse!
First and foremost, it’s important to protect your eyes during any solar eclipse, including the 2024 solar eclipse. Unless you are in the path of totality, throughout the entire duration of the eclipse, you will need to wear solar viewing glasses that allow you to view the eclipse in its partial stages without damaging your eyes. Never look directly at the sun during a partial solar eclipse.
If you are viewing from the path of totality, you will be able to remove your eye protection during the total stage (“totality”) of the eclipse – but will need to wear them before and after totality.
If you need solar eclipse glasses, Amazon has a good selection. Look for those that are ISO-approved to ensure you’ll get the proper eye protection:
- Soluna Eclipse Glasses – 10-pack
- Rainbow Symphony Eclipse Glasses – 5-pack
- Celestron EclipSmart Binoculars
Pro-tip: If you are traveling from outside the region, buy and bring your own solar eclipse glasses. They fold down small, and then you know you’ll have a safe pair when it’s time to view the eclipse.
How to Photograph the Solar Eclipse
Similar to your eyes, a camera lens can be damaged by photographing the sun directly. If you plan to shoot photographs during the total solar eclipse, you’ll need a solar filter for your lens; you can also make one from solar paper and cardboard.
Additionally, you should not look through the viewfinder of your camera without eye protection on. If you have a digital display, you can use this to view your shots.
Other tips for photographing a solar eclipse:
- Be sure to set up and check your settings before you shoot. You may even want to try some solar photography in advance of the eclipse so you have an understanding of the conditions and effect of the solar filter on your shots.
- Conditions change quickly during an eclipse, so you’ll need to have your camera set to manual and adjust throughout the eclipse.
- During the total eclipse, set your F-stop to between 8 and 16, and your shutter speed between 1/30 to 1/4000. You’ll need to adjust these both as more of the sun is obscured.
- During totality, you may need to change your settings in a matter of moments, but will still need to keep your solar filter on your camera to protect the lens and sensors.
- In all cases, be sure to mount your camera on a tripod to stabilize your photos and get crystal-clear lines between the moon and the sun.
In the end, photographing a solar eclipse is partially trial-and-error, so be sure to enjoy the eclipse with your own eyes (through solar eclipse glasses!) too.
When is the Next Solar Eclipse (After this One)?
After the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, the next solar eclipse will be an annular solar eclipse on October 2, 2024. The 2024 annular solar eclipse will be visible in parts of South America and Antarctica. I’ll update this post with details about that eclipse once the April eclipse has ended!
Have other questions about the next solar eclipse in 2024? Let me know in the comments!