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How to See the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse on Monday

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A view of a total solar eclipse when the moon fully blocks the sun to create a dark sky.
The total solar eclipse in 2017 in the US. (Jorge Villalba/Getty Images)

The last time we had a total solar eclipse over the U.S. was in 2017 — an event that awed millions of people around the world.

In 2024, another total solar eclipse is almost here. These unforgettable astronomical events occur when the moon positions itself between the Earth and the sun, blocking the sun’s disc for a few minutes and creating a shadow on Earth known as the “path of totality.” And on Monday, if you’re lucky enough to live in the path of totality — or decide to purposefully travel there — you’ll get to experience the breathtaking spectacle in person as the sun’s outer atmosphere (its corona) emerges like a crown of fire around the moon’s dark disc.

Here’s all you need to know about the 2024 total solar eclipse, where to go to experience it, and where you can still watch the partial eclipse in the Bay Area.

When is the 2024 solar eclipse?

The total solar eclipse will take place on Monday, April 8, 2024.

NASA said that the first place in continental North America to experience totality is Mexico’s Pacific coast — around 11:07 a.m. PST.

Where is the path of totality for the 2024 solar eclipse?

For people who plan to travel outside of the Bay Area to experience the full spectacle, this map by NASA shows the path of totality: A narrow track of about 100 miles wide ( but 10,000 miles long) that will cross three Mexican states, 15 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces. The U.S. state experiencing totality that’s closest to the Bay Area will be Texas.

This map illustrates the paths of the Moon’s shadow across the US during the 2024 total solar eclipse. On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross North and Central America, creating a path of totality. (NASA)

What’s unique about the 2024 eclipse is that it will be the longest and most visible for the U.S. in a century. And as long as you’re within this path, you’ll experience a total eclipse of the sun.

But the closer you are to the center of this path, the longer the eclipse you’ll experience. The duration of the eclipse can range from two to four and a half minutes. “People who are real eclipse fans are going to be looking at maps like this, and they’re going to try to get into the most central position,” said Andrew Fraknoi, an astronomer and board member of the SETI Institute.

It’s worth noting that the further north you are, the more likely it will be cloudy, Fraknoi warned. Check the weather forecast before traveling to see the eclipse, or refer to this map on Eclipsophile, a site that tracks the climate and weather for celestial events created by Canadian meteorologist, Jay Anderson. “In most places, particularly toward the northeast, the chances of cloud cover are greater than 50%,” Fraknoi said.

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If it’s going to be cloudy where you plan to be in the path of totality, be sure to consult the Road Atlas for the Total Solar Eclipse of 2024 — which will help you hastily prepare an alternative route if you’re on the road.

This year’s total solar eclipse will also be one of the most urban eclipses for decades. The path of totality includes cities like Mazatlan, Torreon, Dallas, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo, Rochester and Montreal — in addition to dozens of other cities right on the edge of the path, too.

With 32 million people living on the path of totality and 75 million living within 100 miles of that path, there will undoubtedly be an influx of people traveling into these cities to experience this rare event. So the earlier you plan your travels, the better — and be realistic that for certain destinations, virtually every hotel room, vacation rental or campsite may have been snapped up months ago. Flights to destinations in the eclipse path of totality may also increase in price.

More detailed maps of the path of totality are available for every part of the country on the Great American Eclipse.

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When and where can I still see the partial eclipse in the Bay Area?

For those outside of this path, like us in the Bay Area, fret not: You’ll still be able to experience a partial eclipse. Wherever you are in the Bay, look towards the sun starting at around 11 a.m. during the peak of the eclipse. The sun will be high in the south and will be hard to miss, unless a very tall building is in your line of sight.

When you’ve spotted the sun, be sure not to look directly at it without eclipse glasses.

In the Bay Area, the eclipse will begin at 10:14 a.m. PST on Monday, April 8.

The “maximum bite” will be taken out of the sun at 11:13 a.m. PST to about an hour later, and the event will officially end at around 12:16 p.m. PST, according to Fraknoi.

Here in the Bay, we’ll experience about 45% of the sun’s diameter covered, and the best time to start observing the eclipse is at 11 a.m., Fraknoi said.

Just a few of the places where you can watch the partial eclipse with others in the Bay Area are Exploratorium, California Academy of Sciences, Lawrence Hall of Science, Robert Ferguson Observatory and Chabot Space and Science Center.

You can also observe the eclipse on your own or host your very own watch party. Just be sure to watch the eclipse safely.

While we get to experience just a partial eclipse this year, the next time a total solar eclipse will cross California is in 20 years on August 12, 2045.

A person is looking through a telescope.
Kayleen Mojica, 21, laughs as she peers at Venus through the 8″ Alvan Clark refractor telescope at Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland on Feb. 17, 2023. (Kori Suzuki/KQED)

How to view a total solar eclipse with glasses and pinhole projectors

During a solar eclipse, it is never safe to look directly at the sun without solar-filtered eyewear designed for solar viewing. Only when the moon completely covers the sun during totality will it be safe to look at it without eye protection.

If you’re looking for free eclipse glasses, check with your local public library in the Bay Area, which may well be offering them. You might also be able to snag eclipse glasses at places like the California Academy of Sciences, Exploratorium, and Chabot Space and Science Center. If you’re planning to buy eclipse glasses online, Fraknoi recommends two U.S.-based companies: Rainbow Symphony and American Paper Optics.

For a running list of events around the solar eclipse in North California, visit the Astronomical Association of Northern California website for the most recent updates.

You can also explore indirect viewing methods by making your own pinhole projector to view the eclipse safely.

The surreal experience of the total solar eclipse: What can you expect from the total solar eclipse?

Shreenivasan Manievannan, a professional photographer and Bay Area resident, will be planning to travel to Niagara Falls with the company he works for, GoPro, to capture a timelapse and photographs of the total solar eclipse.

Manievannan said that for him, the most exciting part of the 2017 total solar eclipse was seeing the day change from light to dark in just a few minutes. On top of that, he said, it was a surreal experience overall.

“You will start seeing the change in the flow of the river too [during a total solar eclipse] because the wind will suddenly stop during the eclipse,” Manievannan said. “It becomes very calm, and the birds will stop chirping. Everything looks very still.

“And once the light comes back again, everything goes back to normal,” he said.

The upcoming 2024 total solar eclipse also offers scientists many great opportunities. Researchers will use various instruments and methods to observe and study the eclipse, from telescopes and cameras on the ground and in the air to satellites and sensors in space.

NASA has funded five scientific projects for the 2024 Eclipse to collect this data that’s only available during eclipses. These projects aim to study the sun’s corona and its impact on Earth’s atmosphere. Citizen scientists are also invited to contribute their observations during the total solar eclipse to help with scientific discoveries.

Tell us: What else do you need information about?

At KQED News, we know that it can sometimes be hard to track down the answers to navigate life in the Bay Area in 2024. We’ve published clear, practical explainers and guides about COVID-19, how to cope with intense winter weather, and how to exercise your right to protest safely.

So tell us: What do you need to know more about? Tell us, and you could see your question answered online or on social media. What you submit will make our reporting stronger and help us decide what to cover here on our site and on KQED Public Radio, too.

A version of this story was originally published on January 27, 2024.

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