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Everything You Need to Know About Monday's Solar Eclipse.

Updated: Apr 8


Eclipse hunter Fred Espenak snapped this photo of a total solar eclipse on Oct. 24, 1995, from Dundlod, India. (Image credit: Fred Espenak/NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

On April 8th, 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross northern America with the path of totality crossing Mexico, 15 US states, and Canada. A solar eclipse is a cosmic event where the moon directly covers the sun causing a shadow on Earth's surface. The path of totality is the small path where the sun is fully covered by the moon, in most places only some of the sun will be covered but here the sun is entirely covered and you will be able to experience the total solar eclipse. The shadow where the sun is fully covered is called the Umbra. Total Solar eclipses happen about every 18 months but most of the time it happens somewhere else on the planet. That is what makes this eclipse so special, the path crosses the entirety of northern America, not only that but this will be the last one until March 30, 2033. Even though the path of totality doesn't cross over Colorado at all, we should still see about 63% of the total solar eclipse with the maximum coverage occurring around 12:41. One of the most important parts of viewing the eclipse is having the proper viewing and safety equipment. Proper eclipse-viewing safety glasses are a must but fakes are circulating so you have to be very careful. If you want to make sure your glasses are safe, one easy way to tell is to go outside and put them on. If you aren't looking directly at the sun you shouldn’t be able to see anything, but by looking at the sun you will be able to see a dim dot and nothing else. Although getting good safety glasses can be difficult so there are other ways to view the eclipse. By puncturing a pin-sized hole in a piece of paper and letting the light shine on a flat surface you should be able to see a crescent-shaped point of light. This dot of light mirrors the light from the uncovered part of the sun. Sadly there is a good possibility that eclipse day will be cloudy and there really isn't anything you can do but you will still be able to experience a good amount of the effects from the solar eclipse. The sky will darken, the temperature will drop, and normally vocal wildlife like birds will become silent. The animals all go silent because the darkening of the sky causes them to think it's night so they all get ready for bed. Even if you can't briefly go outside to view this special event there is still something to appreciate about it, the small amount of math. The sun is about 400 times as large as the moon but the sun is also about 400 times farther away. This allows the sun and moon to appear as the same size in the sky, which also allows the moon to fit perfectly over the sun. Another less noticeable thing that happens during eclipses is possible radio interference. Scientists aren't exactly sure when this happens but they suspect that it has to do with how the sun interacts with Earth's ionosphere which is one of the most outer layers of the atmosphere. After this solar eclipse, the next one won't occur until 2033 but even then the eclipse will only be crossing over part of Alaska so it will be barely noticeable in Colorado. The next total eclipse to pass fully over the US won’t happen in 2045 so you will have to wait about 20 years unless you want to travel to Greenland where a total solar eclipse will occur in 2026.


 

Carter, J. (2024a, March 8). Total solar eclipse 2024: Everything you need to know. Space.com. https://www.space.com/41552-total-solar-eclipse-2024-guide.html


Carter, J. (2024b, March 26). How long will April’s total solar eclipse last? Space.com. https://www.space.com/how-long-will-total-solar-eclipse-last-april-8


Gordon, A. (2024, April 4). What happens if it’s cloudy during an Eclipse? Time. https://time.com/6963028/what-if-solar-eclipse-cloudy-2024/


Thompson, J. (2024, April 5). 10 weird things that happen during a solar eclipse. LiveScience. https://www.livescience.com/space/the-sun/10-weird-things-that-happen-during-a-solar-eclipse


 

Owen Dustin is a sophomore at Poudre High School. This is his first year writing for the Poudre Press. At school, he is on the Alpine Robotics team and the unified flag football team. Outside of school he likes to mountain bike, play video games, and hang out with friends.

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