Thursday, July 25, 2024

April 8 solar eclipse will be better than 2017. Here's why.

On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse cut across the Lower 48 from coast to coast, darkening skies from Oregon to South Carolina. For 2 minutes and 40 seconds, the Moon extinguished the Sun, leaving only a gaping black hole in the sky surrounded by the Sun's corona – a crown-like atmosphere. On April 8 — just a few weeks from now — the sky will do it again.

Except this time, it gets better. More people will see it. It lasts a long time. And the eclipse will look very spectacular for a number of reasons.

This will be the last total solar eclipse visible in the United States until August 23, 2044. On average, a total solar eclipse occurs at any location once every 375 years.

Here's why it'll be better than the last.

1. Corona is very active

More importantly, the corona – the Sun's outer layer – can be particularly spectacular. The corona is heated to about 2 million degrees and is made of glowing plasma. It fans out into space like an angel's silver hair, each strand representing plasma shriveled by the Sun's magnetic field lines.

How strange the corona is depends on the Sun's magnetic field, which is constantly evolving over its 11-year cycle. That is why each eclipse is said to have its own personality.

For the 2017 eclipse in North America, the Sun was heading toward “solar minimum” but still had three salient features — a magnet and arm-like appendages visible from Earth.

During the 2019 total solar eclipse in South America, the eclipse was relatively dull because the magnetic field was not significant — but polar streamers, or streaks emanating from the Sun's north and south poles, were visible.

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At this time, we reach solar maximum. That's when the Sun has bands of magnetism that intersect near its equator, and the north and south poles are about to flip. That magnetic war zone creates many sunspot-like discolorations, or gashes, that bubble up from the Sun's interior to its surface almost like a lava lamp. Each exerts a magnetic flux into space.

“Streamers” of the solar wind can be seen moving away from the Sun, and perhaps some coronal loops – loops of magnetism whose magnetic field is 1,000 times stronger than the Sun's ambient background field.

2. The shadow is bigger and darker

In 2017, the moon's shadow traced a path up to 71.2 miles wide. On April 8, the Earth will be slightly closer to the Moon and the shadow will be 122.6 miles wide.

That means the sky will be darkest along the path of totality, and the closer you are to the centerline, the farther daylight will be physically. A 360-degree sunrise event, with the horizon unfolding as a peachy twilight, can have slightly more dramatic colors. And sudden night falls feel Like the night. And you will see stars and planets.

Jupiter is to the left of the Sun, with Venus – appearing brighter – to the right. Saturn and Mars appear to the right of Venus, although they are faint and difficult to see without binoculars or binoculars.

There's even an outside chance (not with the naked eye) that you might see Comet Ponce-Brooks near Jupiter, but it's fainter than the planets. Also, since the total eclipse only lasts a few minutes, it's better to get the overall experience rather than trying to find difficult celestial objects.

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3. More people will see it

Not only does the moon's shadow cover more land at this time, but the path of totality also tracks major urban areas. In Texas, San Antonio and Austin are both on the edge of the route, with Dallas closer to the center. To the north and east, the total eclipse will pass through Little Rock, Arkansas; Evansville, Indianapolis, and the southeastern suburbs of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Toledo, Cleveland, Akron, and the northwest suburbs of Cincinnati and Columbus in Ohio; Erie, Pa.; Buffalo and Rochester in New York; and Burlington, Vt.

About 12 million Americans 2017 Lived on the PathBut still A total of 32 million people live on this year's route. About 150 million people live within 200 miles of the route, including residents of Washington, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

A larger shadow takes longer to traverse each location. The 2017 eclipse lasted as long as 2 minutes 40 seconds, but this eclipse has a maximum duration of 4 minutes 28 seconds. For a solar eclipse, every second spent in the moon's shadow is precious. This is the only time that Earth's inhabitants can gaze in awe at the Sun's atmosphere.

See how long the eclipse will last in different cities:

  • Dallas Downtown will see 3 minutes and 51 seconds despite being 30 miles from the eclipse's centerline.
  • Little RockAt the edge of totality, you get 2 minutes and 20 seconds — but a short drive to Conway, 25 miles northwest, gives you a total of 3 minutes and 53 seconds.
  • Carbondale, Ill., The city, which was in the epicenter of the 2017 eclipse, will experience 4 minutes and 8 seconds of totality this time.
  • Paducah, Ky., The southeast part of totality is about two miles along the path, and only 90 seconds into totality. However, if you drive on Interstate 24 toward Vienna, Ill., you can earn an extra two minutes in the moon's shadow.
  • Indianapolis A great 3 minutes and 49 seconds of viewing.
  • Niagara Falls Expect more than 3½ minutes in total.
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5. Its arrival will be very dramatic

During a solar eclipse, the moon's shadow travels a long, thin path. The moon's shadow travels very fast at the beginning and end of the path. That is because of the geometry of the Earth and the movement of the celestial bodies. Towards the middle, the shadow travels relatively slowly.

In 2017, the shadow moved at 2,400 mph in Oregon, but slowed to 1,850 mph by the time it crossed Wyoming. It reached 1,449 mph northwest of Nashville

But this time, the shadow is moving fast across most of the US track. It starts at 1,600 mph in Texas, but zips to 1,850 mph once it reaches Indianapolis. At Rochester, NY, the Shadow will hit 2,359 mph; It leaves Maine at 3,041 mph.

What does this mean? The transition from day to night on the path of totality can be a little quicker and more dramatic. The area of ​​the eclipse will be slightly shortened.

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