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Starts With A Bang

Where will I get the best views of the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse?

The next solar eclipse to occur over heavily populated areas is on April 8, 2024. For a spectacular show; here’s where the best views are!
map of earth eclipse path April 8 2024
This map shows the path of totality during the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse. The red, central line is the only location where totality will occur, with a maximum duration of about 4 minutes and 30 seconds occurring in the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of Mexico. The southwest locations are more likely to be cloud-free than the northeast locations.
Credit: Timeanddate/E. Siegel
Key Takeaways
  • On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will occur across North America, passing through Mexico, the United States, and parts of northeastern Canada.
  • With tens of millions of people living directly within the path of totality and twice the duration of 2017’s “Great American Eclipse,” it promises to be an utterly spectacular show.
  • Where should you go to get the best experience possible? This guide has everything you need to make the most of this one-time event.

A spectacular total solar eclipse is coming.

total solar eclipse diagram
When the Moon passes directly between the Earth and the Sun, a solar eclipse occurs. Whether the eclipse is total or annular depends on whether the Moon’s angular diameter appears larger or smaller than the Sun’s as viewed from Earth’s surface. Only when the Moon’s angular diameter appears larger than the Sun’s are total solar eclipses possible.
Credit: Kevin M. Gill/flickr

On April 8, 2024, the Moon’s shadow will land on Earth’s surface.

a black hole in the middle of the earth.
An image of the 1999 total solar eclipse as seen from space, with the Moon’s shadow clearly visible on the surface of the Earth. While only a small region of Earth experiences a total solar eclipse at any given time, the swift-moving shadow carves out a long path that can span several thousands of miles (kilometers) for each such eclipse. For comparison, a total lunar eclipse can be seen from anywhere on the night side of Earth.
Credit: CNES/RSA, Mir, 1999

With totality lasting up to ~4½ minutes, the sights will be spectacular.

solar corona during eclipse
The solar corona, as shown here, is imaged out to 25 solar radii during the 2006 total solar eclipse. The longer the duration of a total solar eclipse, the darker the sky becomes and the better the corona and background astronomical objects can be seen.
(Credit: Martin Antoš, Hana Druckmüllerová, Miloslav Druckmüller)

The Sun’s corona, background stars, satellites, and several planets will be visible.

simulated sky April 8 2024
During the total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024, the planet Venus will be prominent and to the west of the eclipsed Sun, while Jupiter will be to the east. Farther to the west than Venus, but more difficult to view, will be Saturn and Mars. Only under the best of conditions can all four planets be seen.
Credit: E. Siegel/Stellarium

There are five keys to witnessing it.

map path totality eclipse april 8 2024
The path of totality of the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse cuts from southwest Mexico up through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Canada. The best viewing locations will be close to the center-line and farther southwest, not only to maximize the time spent in totality but also to maximize the chance of minimal cloud cover.
Credit: Great American Eclipse, LLC

1.) Maximize your totality time.

map of three total solar eclipses
This map shows the path of three total solar eclipses: from 1918, 2017, and 2024. Note that the 2024 total solar eclipse will last for approximately twice the duration of the 2017 eclipse, meaning that close to the center-line and particularly toward the southwestern portion of the path, the skies will become darker for longer than during the 2017 experience.
Credit: Google / INEGI, Xavier Jubier

Locations farther southwest and closer to the eclipse’s center-line provide the best visual shows.

sun moon eclipse sky wide-field
This photograph, taken the 2017 total solar eclipse, shows the Sun being eclipsed by the Moon during totality. Note how, although the sky is darkened closest to the Sun, the horizon is still illuminated by direct sunlight. The closer you are to the center-line of totality and the longer the duration of the eclipse, the darker the overall sky becomes, allowing observers to see fainter, dimmer objects.
Credit: Joe Sexton/Jesse Angle

2.) Prepare for severe temperature drops.

Eclipses greatly reduce the Sun heat.

temperature drop 2017 total solar eclipse
The downward solar radiation as modeled by NOAA, to predict the effects on temperature during the total solar eclipse. The diagram shows the solar irradiance reaching Earth’s surface over time. Across the path of totality, air temperatures experienced drops of between 10-25 degrees Fahrenheit: typical of total solar eclipses.
Credit: NOAA / Earth Systems Research Laboratory

In 2017, air temperatures dropped by ~20 °F (12 °C) during totality; expect similar drops in 2024.

children eclipse glasses solar eclipse
Wearing ISO-certified eclipse glasses will block 99.997% of the visible light, allowing you to safely look at the partially-eclipsed Sun during the daytime. Eclipse glasses or equivalent protection is required to avoid eye damage during the viewing of a total solar eclipse. Note that “comfortable clothing” at the start of an eclipse might not be comfortable during the duration of the eclipse.
Credit: NASA / ScienceCast

3.) Wear sufficient eye protection.

solar eclipse bead
The bright “flare” at the limb of the Sun is known as one of Baily’s beads, which is a tiny bit of sunlight peeking out between two mountains on the Moon. When the last of these beads disappears, it’s safe to take off your eclipse glasses and view the eclipsed Sun directly. When the first bead reappears on the opposite side, it’s no longer safe to look at the Sun without sufficient eye protection.
Credit: Ricardo Garza-Grande

Only totality itself is safe for your naked eyes.

eclipse welder's goggles
As an alternative to wearing eclipse glasses, a welder’s hood with shade 14 or higher glass is sufficient to protect your eyes. Welder’s glass shade numbers are additive; here, a shade 5 set of goggles plus a shade 10 hood provides sufficient (5 + 10 = 15, which is ≥ 14) protection to view even the un-eclipsed Sun directly.
Credit: J. Cummings and E. Siegel, 2012

For everything else, eclipse glasses (or shade 14+ welder’s glass) is required.

pinhole camera
A pinhole camera simply works by taking a box and poking a hole in one side of it. As light passes through that hole, it creates an inverted image on the opposite interior wall of the box. The larger the box, the larger the image. This works outstandingly for viewing the Sun’s disk with conditions other than totality during a solar eclipse.
Credit: DrBob & Pbroks13/Wikimedia Commons

4.) Bring a “pinhole” camera.

pinhole camera sun image
This image shows the projection of the disk of the Sun during the partial phase of a solar eclipse. Pinhole cameras are cheap and easy to construct, and can be very useful for viewing the Sun’s disk, as well as sunspots, before and after totality during a solar eclipse.
Credit: Eugene Kim/flickr

During the partial phases, a solar projection shows totality’s approach.

sunlight partial phase eclipse
If you don’t have a pinhole camera, a small series of holes can project many images of the Sun at once. Examples include a kitchen skimmer, sunlight filtering through tree leaves (shown), a sweater stretched to allow light to pass through the yarn gaps, or even your fingers criss-crossed when held above your head.
Credit: Ketchum family blog

5.) Scout for likely cloud-free locations.

cloudy annular solar eclipse destiny fox
This image of an annular solar eclipse, as seen through a cloudy sky, is spectacular to look at, but offers only an obscured view of the Sun. During a total solar eclipse, the absolute best part would be obscured if your skies are cloudy.
Credit: Destiny Fox, 2012

My top locations are:

map north america eclipse
Note that in this color-coded eclipse map of the April 8, 2024 path of totality, some of the major cities highlighted are close to the center-line, like Buffalo, NY, Cleveland, OH, and Indianapolis, IN, while other highlighted cities experience shorter totality durations and are farther from the center-line. Being as close to the center-line as possible, with the best likelihood for cloud-free conditions, is the way to maximize your total solar eclipse experience.
Credit: National Eclipse

Mazatlán, Durango, Torreón, and Piedras Negras, Mexico.

mexico eclipse locations april 8 2024 total solar
In the southwest of Mexico, residents located in Mazatlán will receive nearly the full 4:30 of totality, with only a ~25% chance of cloud cover. People in/near Durango and Torreón will have similar experiences, but closer to the US border, in Piedras Negras, the day is significantly more likely to be cloudy. Mexico offers the greatest potential for a clear, long-duration total solar eclipse.
Credit: Siegel

Fredericksburg, Gatesville, and Sulphur Springs, Texas.

path totality texas total solar eclipse april 8, 2024
With eclipse times reaching as high as 4 minutes and 25 seconds along the center-line and only about a ~50% chance of cloud cover, cities like Sulphur Springs, Waxahachie, West, Gatesville, Fredericksburg, Kerrville, Lampasas, and Radar Base, TX, all provide spectacular viewing locations. Dallas will receive over 3.5 minutes of totality and Waco will receive over 4 minutes, but occupants of Fort Worth, Austin, or San Antonio should consider a drive to a better location.
Credit: Siegel

Idabel, Oklahoma.

arkansas path of totality eclipse april 8 2024
Although Little Rock, Arkansas is within the path of totality, it will get only about 2.5 minutes of darkness. Russellville, the nearby (and pristine) Mount Nebo, and Cherokee Village will all receive 4:15 of totality, instead. Hot Springs, for the curious, receives about 3.5 minutes of totality. With only about a ~50% chance of clouds in these locations, Arkansas is a pretty good location to view the April 8, 2024 eclipse. Idabel, Oklahoma, also shown here, is another excellent spot.
Credit: Siegel

Russellville, Mount Nebo and Cherokee Village, Arkansas.

map of illinois total solar eclipse 2024
Although the path of totality will go across the southern part of the state of Illinois, no large population centers fall in this path. The best cities to view the eclipse in Illinois include Benton, Marion, Fairfield, and Lawrenceville, with about a ~60% chance of clouds in each. Jackson, Missouri, also shown here, will experience similar conditions.
Credit: Siegel

Benton, Marion, and Lawrenceville, Illinois.

map indiana cities total eclipse april 2024
Although all of the state of Indiana has about a ~60% chance of clouds on April 8th, the large city of Indianapolis is well-positioned within the path of totality, which it will experience for nearly 4 minutes on April 8, 2024. Other good locations are Vicennes, Bloomington, and Shelbyville. Even off-center cities like Terre-Haute and Evansville can expect ~3 minutes of totality.
Credit: Siegel

Vincennes, Bloomington, and Indianapolis, Indiana.

map totality solar eclipse ohio
Although the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse will bring totality to Dayton, Akron, and Toledo, Ohio, the experience in places closer to the center-line, like Sandusky Ohio, Cleveland and its suburbs, and even Erie Pennsylvania will have much longer totality times: around 3:45, while still “only” having about a ~60% chance of clouds on that date.
Credit: Siegel

Cleveland, Ohio.

eclipse path totality new york
Although there’s about a 60% chance of cloudiness over the northern border of New York, cities like Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Rochester, and Watertown/Fort Drum will still experience over 3.5 minutes of totality. If the skies happen to be clear, the show will be spectacular.
Credit: Siegel

Buffalo, Rochester, and Niagara Falls, New York.

path totality northeast 2024 solar eclipse
Although cities like Plattsburg, NY, Burlington, VT, Miramichi, New Brunswick, and Havre-Aubert Island, Quebec, will all be close to the center-line of totality on April 8, 2024, historically there’s a ~70% chance or greater of clouds. Coupled with the eclipse occurring in the afternoon, the viewing conditions in these locations are not expected to be favorable.
Credit: Siegel

Even with cloud cover, totality is worth the experience.

total solar eclipse cloudy
This photograph of the March 9, 2016 total solar eclipse was taken in Indonesia during rather cloudy conditions. Even with near-total cloud cover, the sights and experience of a total solar eclipse are still spectacular.
Credit: Dr. Martin Junius/Spektrum

Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.

eclipse path cloud cover climatology April 8 2024
This map shows the historical cloud cover on and around April 8 in various years, enabling a prediction for cloud cover chances on April 8, 2024.
Credit: Brian Brettschneider

(Update: plus a bonus cloud-cover map, courtesy of climatologist Brian Brettschneider!)


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