A Total Solar Eclipse: Get Ready to View on April 8, 2024

Mind Bending | March 4, 2024
total solar eclipse 2024 fox cities

By Dr. Teri Gee, Director, Barlow Planetarium

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will pass over the United States!

Alas, the path of totality will not pass over Wisconsin, but we have a great opportunity that won’t be repeated for a very long time.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the Earth, the Moon and the Sun all get lined up perfectly.

When this happens, those who are standing in the right spot on Earth (the path of totality) will see the Moon move in front of the Sun and completely block out its light. That’s what you are seeing in the picture. The glow is called the corona. This is the outermost layer of the Sun’s atmosphere. We can’t see it normally, but when the Moon covers the Sun, the corona glows around the edges. This is called totality and it only lasts for a few minutes. This is the only time that it is safe to look right at the Sun without any protection. After that, the Moon will move away from the Sun once more and you will need to use protection to see it.

There are three easy ways to safely observe the partial phases of the eclipse:

  • You can buy special eclipse glasses. Make sure that they are meeting the requirements for ISO certification. It should be printed on the glasses. When you put them on, if you’re not looking at a bright light, you should see pretty much nothing. (Sunglasses will NOT protect your eyes for viewing the Sun! Not even 2 pair of sunglasses!)
  • You can make your own pinhole camera and project the Sun’s image onto a piece of paper.
  • You can use a colander and project lots of images of the Sun onto a piece of paper.

Here in the Fox Cities, we won’t get a total solar eclipse, but if you are going to stay here, you can still get a great show!

We’ll get nearly 87% of the Sun covered and that will be enough to make it dimmer and even a little cooler.
The eclipse will begin at 12:54 pm It will reach its maximum at 2:08 pm. Last contact (when the Moon moves fully away from the Sun) will be at 3:22 pm. The next total eclipse that will pass over Wisconsin isn’t until 2099!
So take the chance now because you’ll have to wait a very long time to see it again!

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