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April’s Total Solar Eclipse is a Once-in-a-Generation Event

The 2024 total solar eclipse on April 8 is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for much of North America. While solar eclipses occur often, or more precisely every 18 months, the April 8 total eclipse will be visible to millions, from parts of Mexico and numerous US states all the way to Canada. 

The “path of totality” 

The rare celestial event, when the moon passes in between the Sun and Earth and completely blocks the Sun for a few minutes and casts a shadow on Earth, creates a so-called “path of totality,” It will be visible in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. 

This will be the second total solar eclipse in seven years for parts of southeastern Missouri, western Kentucky, and southern Illinois. This is a gift because most of the planet, or over 70 percent, is covered in water. Seeing a total eclipse once is a miracle, and twice is a miracle. 

As NASA pointed out, “On average, about 375 years elapse between the appearance of two total eclipses from the same place. But the interval can sometimes be much longer!” That’s why the April total eclipse caused so much noise, and if you can get a day off, it is worth a road trip to experience it fully. 

If you miss this eclipse in this part of the world, you will have to wait 55 years until May 1, 2079.

Watch it safely 

If you are among “eclipse chasers,” make sure to watch it safely. Even if you are watching a partial eclipse, wear protective glasses approved by the American Astronomical Society. Looking directly at the Sun is unsafe except during the short total phase. 

If you don’t have the proper gear, you might suffer from “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns. Eclipse blindness can be permanent, even if you look at the solar eclipse for one second. Exposure to the partial eclipse can damage or destroy cells in the retina that communicate what you see to your brain. 

More reasons to get excited 

Apart from keeping your eyes safe, there are many reasons to get hyped about the upcoming solar eclipse. Unlike the 2017 solar eclipse, this one will be longer and darker due to the broader path of totality. The corona, the hazy white glow appearing when the moon blocks the Sun, will look like a crown. Interestingly, corona in Latin means crown. 

Michael Zeiler, an eclipse cartographer and co-founder of GreatAmericanEclipse.com, told Mashable that the corona’s shape will be “seared into your memory.” Other experts agree that this event will only leave you wanting more. 

If you can’t watch the total solar eclipse live, you can follow the live stream on NASA TV, NASA.gov, the NASA app, and YouTube.

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