April 23, 2024


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Why will the total solar eclipse in April be a historic event in the United States?

Why will the total solar eclipse in April be a historic event in the United States?

“Eclipse Across America” will air live on Monday, April 8, beginning at 2 PM ET on ABC, ABC News Live, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Disney+, Hulu as well as social media platforms.

When the moon crosses in front of the sun on April 8, parts of North America will plunge into darkness, marking a rare celestial phenomenon that will not return for decades.

“When the Sun's disk is completely covered by the Moon, daylight suddenly changes from bright sunlight to a very strange twilight in a matter of seconds,” says Fred Espenak, a former astrophysicist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and author of The Road Atlas of Planet Earth. . “Total solar eclipse of 2024,” ABC News said.

“It gets dark enough to spot the bright stars and planets, so it's very exciting and very amazing,” Espenak said. “Most people get a very visceral reaction to seeing a total eclipse.”

The last total solar eclipse in America was in August 2017, but the seven-year difference between the two eclipses is “deceptive,” according to Espinak.

“If you look back before 2017, the last year was 1979,” Espenak said. “So it's a bit deceptive that these two eclipses occurred within seven years of each other.”

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The next total solar eclipse in the contiguous United States won't occur until August 2044 in Montana and North Dakota, and the next coast-to-coast eclipse is scheduled to occur in 2045. According to NASA.

Relatively speaking, the total solar eclipse of 2024 is “better” than 2017, because the total path is about 60% wider and the duration of the eclipse is about 60% longer, according to Espenak, who explained that some locations within the path will see up to four and a half minutes of eclipse.

The path of the moon's shadow across the Earth's surface is called the path of totality, and to view the April 8 total solar eclipse, viewers must be within the 115-mile-wide path.

In the United States, the path of the total eclipse begins in Texas, and will pass through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Small parts of Tennessee and Michigan will also witness a total solar eclipse. According to NASA.

Given the fact that April's total solar eclipse will be the last of its kind to occur in North America in 20 years, it is expected to be the largest mass travel event in the United States in 2024, Michael Zeller, an expert solar eclipse cartographer, told ABC News. .

Zeller compared travel on the day of the eclipse to “50 simultaneous Super Bowls across the country,” saying four million people are expected to travel to see it.

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“When you look at the number of people expected to arrive in the path of a total solar eclipse, we estimate that those numbers are roughly equivalent to 50 simultaneous Super Bowls across the country, from Texas to Maine,” he said.

In anticipation of the historic eclipse, a small Texas county is preparing for a state of emergency due to the huge number of expected tourists

In February, Bell County Judge David Blackburn issued a local disaster declaration, saying the county's 400,000 tourists were expected to double.

Texas is the main place eclipse chasers travel because it is in the path of totality and has the best chances for clear skies on eclipse day, Zeller said.

“You want to be in the middle of the lane for the longest time,” Zeller explained. “If you have a friend or relative at the track in Texas, and there are 12 million Texans inside the track, this is where you should go because that's where the best weather forecast is.”

From the decades-long rarity of the eclipse to its astonishing duration and path, April 8 presents an exciting opportunity that Espenak says skywatchers shouldn't miss.

“I think seeing a total eclipse should be on everyone's wish list, and next April is just a golden opportunity,” Espenak said. “It's an amazing event that people will remember for the rest of their lives. They will tell their grandchildren about the total eclipse they saw in April of 2024 if they can make it to the path of totality and enjoy some good weather.”

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“So I wish everyone clear skies next April,” Espenak added.