SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Utahns prepare for partial eclipse while millions hope for clear skies to see total solar eclipse

Mar 4, 2024, 1:59 PM | Updated: Apr 8, 2024, 6:12 am

FILE: The sun is seen in full eclipse over a park on Aug. 21, 2017, in Hiawatha, Kansas. Millions o...

FILE: The sun is seen in full eclipse over a park on Aug. 21, 2017, in Hiawatha, Kansas. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the "path of totality" in order to experience a total solar eclipse. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — The 2023 annular solar eclipse gave thousands of Utahns a chance to see its “ring of fire,” but 2024’s total solar eclipse will require some travel to get the full experience.

When is the eclipse?

This year’s total solar eclipse takes place on Monday, April 8. Parts of Mexico’s Pacific coast will experience totality just after noon MT, with several U.S. cities experiencing the eclipse until it moves offshore in Newfoundland, Canada, at 1:46 p.m. MT.

The peak spectacle on April 8 will last up to 4 minutes, 28 seconds in the path of total darkness — twice as long as the total solar eclipse that dimmed U.S. skies in 2017.

Where can I see the 2024 solar eclipse?

The total solar eclipse path will pass over parts of Mexico, the United States and Canada — but the band of totality will miss Utah. The eclipse’s path curves to the east as it moves north across the continent, with totality visible in several cities, including:

  • Dallas, Texas
  • Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Poplar Bluff, Missouri
  • Paducah, Kentucky
  • Carbondale, Illinois
  • Evansville, Indiana
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Erie, Pennsylvania
  • Buffalo, New York
  • Burlington, Vermont
  • Lancaster, New Hamshire
  • Caribou, Maine

All in all, it will hit parts of 13 U.S. states: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Utahns will see a partial eclipse, in which the moon appears to take a “bite” out of the sun, which can last between 70 and 80 minutes, NASA says.

The further southeast you are, the better. Mexican Hat will see more than 60% coverage while that number drops toward 50% as you move toward the Wasatch Front. Elko, Nevada, will see closer to just 40% coverage.

  • 11:15 a.m. — partial eclipse begins in St. George
  • 11:20 a.m. — partial eclipse begins over the Wasatch Front
  • 12:20 p.m. — maximum eclipse over most of Utah
  • 1:45 p.m. — partial eclipse ends over eastern Utah

Annular vs. total solar eclipse

October’s eclipse was an annular solar eclipse, which created a “ring of fire” effect across Utah. In an annular eclipse, the moon passes between the sun and Earth while it is at or near its farthest point from Earth. Because the moon is farther away from Earth, it appears smaller than the sun and does not completely cover the star.

During a total solar eclipse, the moon completely blocks the face of the sun. The sky will darken as if it’s dusk or dawn, and people can see the sun’s corona or outer atmosphere. A total solar eclipse is the only type of solar eclipse where viewers can momentarily remove their eclipse glasses for the brief time when the moon is completely blocking the sun. The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be on Monday.

From left to right, these images show a total solar eclipse, annular solar eclipse, and partial solar eclipse. A hybrid eclipse appears as either a total or an annular eclipse (the left and middle images), depending on the observer’s location. Credits: Total eclipse (left): NASA/MSFC/Joseph Matus; annular eclipse (center): NASA/Bill Dunford; partial eclipse (right): NASA/Bill Ingalls

During a partial eclipse, only a part of the sun will appear to be covered, giving it a crescent shape. This is what Utahns will see on April 8.

Some solar eclipses are hybrid, shifting between total and annular as the moon’s shadow moves across the globe due to the Earth’s curved surface.

Utah also saw an annular eclipse when one swept across I-15 just a few miles south of Cedar City in 2012. The last total eclipse was the “Great American Eclipse” of 2017.

How to safely view the 2024 solar eclipse

Except during the brief total phase of a total solar eclipse, when the moon completely blocks the sun’s bright face, it is not safe to look directly at the sun without specialized eye protection for solar viewing. In Utah, there will be no point where looking at the sun is safe without proper eye protection.

“Viewing any part of the bright Sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics will instantly cause severe eye injury,” NASA said.

Regular sunglasses, no matter how dark they are, are not safe for viewing the sun. To view the eclipse, you will need safe solar viewers that comply with the ISO 12312-2 international standard.

“Do NOT look at the sun through a camera lens, telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while wearing eclipse glasses or using a handheld solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will burn through the filter and cause serious eye injury,” NASA added.

If you don’t have eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer, you can use an indirect viewing method.

Stormy skies?

Clouds and storms could hinder the ability to see the eclipse in its full glory in several spots along the path of totality — where the moon will completely block out the sun.

Severe storms may pose a threat to solar eclipse viewers

Future eclipses

There are usually two solar eclipses worldwide each year, but up to five are possible (this won’t happen again until 2206). However, many take place in remote parts of the Earth.

North America won’t experience totality again until 2033, with Alaska getting sole dibs. Then that’s it until 2044, when totality will be confined to Western Canada, Montana and North Dakota.

The path of the 2024 total solar eclipse. (Michael Zeiler, GreatAmericanEclipse.com)

Utah will also see partial eclipses in January 2028, January 2029, March 2033, June 2039 and April 2043.

An August 2044 partial eclipse will near totality, but the big ticket will be the Aug. 12, 2045, total solar eclipse.

It will pass over the Beehive State, giving millions of Utahns a perfect view of the eclipse from North Salt Lake to Richfield and beyond.

“The totality will go all the way down to Arches National Park,” Seth Jarvis, director of Clark Planetarium, told the Deseret News. “So totality is going to be amazing in Utah, Aug. 12, 2045.”

(NationalEclipse.com)

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Utahns prepare for partial eclipse while millions hope for clear skies to see total solar eclipse