Three years from now, Monday, April 8, 2024, more than half a billion people across North America are likely to take a few minutes away from their daily lives and look up to the skies for one of nature’s great spectacles. : solar eclipse.
And those fortunate enough to find themselves on a narrow trail that stretches through northern Mexico through parts of the 15 states of the United States will have the opportunity to host what many call the most spectacular of stellar roadshows – everything solar eclipse…
Many readers will surely remember “2017 Great American Eclipse… “This event attracted significant media attention, and rightfully so. It was the first total solar eclipse to be seen from the contiguous (48) United States since 1979, the first since 1918 to travel from coast to coast, and the first solar eclipse. a total solar eclipse to be seen from the United States in the 21st century, and it was also the very first time in modern history that the path of totality was seen exclusively within the United States and no other country.
Video: Total solar eclipse in April 2024 – look at the path of totality
Connected: Total solar eclipse in 2024: here’s what you need to know
Spectacle of the solar eclipse
It was an amazing experience for all who saw the sky suddenly darken until mid-twilight, and with it the sudden appearance of stars and planets in what was just a few moments ago the daytime sky.
Then, of course, there was the incredible corona, the outer atmosphere of the Sun, visible only in those precious moments when the sun’s disk is completely covered by the moon. And in several places around the dark edge of the moon, protrusions were also visible – pinkish tongues of glowing hydrogen gas. And when the first rays of the rising sun swept past the uneven edge of the moon, a “diamond ring” formed for a short time, signaling the abrupt end of the “Greatest Show on Earth.”
But the best is yet to come. As spectacular as the Great American Eclipse of 2017 is, an even better eclipse will occur in 2024.
The “Great North American Solar Eclipse”, which begins in Mexico, travels to Texas, then travels northeast to the Ohio Valley, upstate New York, Quebec, Canada and New England, and finally leaves the continent through the Canadian Maritime Region. … And it’s not too early to start making plans to see it!
Connected: The most amazing photos of a total solar eclipse of 2017
Outstanding among total eclipses
Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the moon’s dark shadow cone, called a shadow, from where a total eclipse can be seen, has swept through parts of the lower 48 states only 21 times. The total duration of these eclipses ranged from one second (April 28, 1930) to an incredibly long 5 minutes and 20 seconds (June 24, 1778). The average population duration for all 21 cases is 2 minutes 12 seconds.
For the August 21, 2017 eclipse, the maximum total duration was 2 minutes 40 seconds, which is almost half a minute longer than the US average.
But on April 8, 2024, the maximum duration of fullness will be 4 minutes 26 seconds (over southwest Texas). it 135 seconds longer than the US average and 40 percent longer than maximum duration of the eclipse in 2017…
Connected: Greatest solar eclipses in U.S. history
In fact, out of 21 previous populations that crossed the current contiguous U.S. borders, only two will exceed the 2024 eclipse in constellation duration: the aforementioned 1778 eclipse and the June 16, 1806 eclipse (4 minutes 52 seconds). … This latest eclipse is known for the observations made by José Joaquín de Ferrer, the Spanish astronomer who first coined the term “corona” to refer to the halo of light surrounding the dark sun during fullness, and by James Fenimore Cooper, who described his own experience of witnessing this eclipse from Cooperstown, NY, autobiographical vignette.
The total path width of the 2024 eclipse will also be exceptional, with the shadow from the previous 21 eclipses in the United States averaging about 93 miles (150 kilometers) wide. In 2017, it was about 71 miles (115 km) wide, but in 2024 the total path will be significantly larger, at 124 miles (200 km) across.
Typically, the path of most total solar eclipses tends to have a perverse habit of flying over distant parts of the Earth or over wide swaths of the ocean and avoiding major human settlements. Not so in 2024.
In Mexico, the cities of Mazatlan (population 503,000), Durango (population 655,000) and Torreón (population 735,000) are within the common route. In the United States, the largest population center will be Dallas, Texas (population 1.3 million), followed by Austin (population 951,000), Indianapolis, Indiana (population 864,000), Cleveland, Ohio (population 385,000) , Buffalo, USA. New York (population 256,000) and Rochester (population 207,000).
And there are many other major cities such as San Antonio, Texas, St. Louis, Missouri, Louisville, Kentucky, Cincinnati, and Columbus in Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that are less than a few hours’ drive from the Totality Zone.
The largest city to witness a total eclipse will be in Canada: Montreal, Quebec (population 1.8 million).
Interestingly, in the lower Ohio Valley, the 2017 and 2024 shared paths intersect. On average, a given geographic location experiences a total solar eclipse about once every 375 years. But Carbondale, Illinois, in which christened itself the city “Crossroads of the Eclipse” – will experience totality again in 2024, less than 7 years after the total eclipse of 2017!
According to Canadian meteorologist Jay Anderson, who has been studying climatological conditions for many years ahead of impending solar eclipses: “April is a transitional month across the continent, when winter storms gradually give way to convective clusters of spring and summer. In Mexico, the winter dry season is in the last month before the summer rains. In the United States, the southern portions of the track are already experiencing thunderstorm season, while in the north, spring storms and occasional snowfalls still hint at leaving. Winter. In Maritime Canada, the last winter snow has not yet melted, and fresh snowfalls pose a threat to any weather system. ”
The greatest probability of good weather is in Mexico, where the cloud cover ranges from 20% to about 50% at the border with Texas. In contrast to these conditions, the weather forecast in the United States is marginal, if not outright unfavorable. Climatological records show that average cloud cover increases from about 50-60% in Texas, northeast to the Missouri-Illinois border, and then rises to nearly 80% at the Indiana-Ohio border. Near and along the Great Lakes, cloud cover falls again to about 60-65%, and then rises again above 80% in Quebec, northern New England and Primorye. You can get more information on the Eclipsophile site here…
But even in the most pessimistic regions, it is enough to recall the famous aphorism attributed to science fiction writer Robert Heinlein: “The climate is what you expect, and the weather is what you get!”
Indeed, April weather in the United States and southern Canada is much more variable than in Mexico, so anywhere there is some hope of a very clear sky on the day of the eclipse.
And as we get closer to that special day, Space.com will provide details for would-be eclipse hunters, so mark your calendars and stay tuned!
Joe Rao is an Instructor and Guest Lecturer at New York Hayden Planetarium… He writes about astronomy for Natural History Journalthen Farmers’ Almanac and other publications. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and further Facebook…