SAN ANGELO, Texas (Concho Valley Homepage) — Though October’s annular eclipse has come and gone, it doesn’t mean you should throw out your eclipse glasses just yet.
The next solar eclipse will be a total eclipse that occurs on April 8, 2024, less than six months away. The eclipse’s projected path will take it through Texas and is set to intersect with 2023’s annular eclipse path.
According to NASA, the eclipse will also be the last total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous U.S. — a term used to describe the 48 states that comprise the main landmass body of America and excludes Hawaii, Alaska and other territories — until 2044.
Total solar eclipses occur when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, causing the moon to completely block the face of the sun. Those who view the eclipse from locations where the moon covers the sun in its entirety will notice that the sky has darkened as if it were dawn or dusk.
If the weather does not obstruct the view of the phenomenon, onlookers will be able to see the sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, from behind the moon, an aspect of the sun that is normally obscured by the star’s brightness.
Total solar eclipses are also the only type of eclipse during which viewers can safely remove their eclipse glasses for a time for an unobstructed view, according to NASA. Such an action is only safe during totality, the brief period of time when the moon completely blocks the sun.
Total solar eclipses occur in several stages, each with its own unique name and visual indicators. Below is a list of each stage and a brief description of it, courtesy of NASA:
- “As the moon passes between the sun and Earth, at first it does not completely cover the sun. The sun appears to have a crescent shape.”
- “Shadow bands are rapidly moving, long, dark bands separated by white spaces that can be seen on the sides of buildings or the ground just before and after totality …”
- “As the moon continues to move across the sun, several points of light shine around the moon’s edges. Known as Baily’s Beads, these are light rays from the sun streaming through the valleys along the moon’s horizon. Baily’s Beads are very short-lived, and may not last long enough to be noticeable to all observers of the total solar eclipse.”
- “Baily’s Beads will begin to disappear until eventually, only a single bright spot will remain along the edge of the moon’s shadow. This bright spot resembles the diamond in a giant diamond ring formed by the rest of the sun’s atmosphere.”
- “Once the diamond ring disappears and there is no longer any direct sunlight, you may remove your eclipse glasses and look at the total eclipse safely with the naked eye. … During totality, viewers may be able to see the chromosphere (a region of the solar atmosphere, appearing as the thin circle of pink around the moon) and the corona (the outer solar atmosphere, appearing as streams of white light).”
- “As the moon continues to move across the face of the sun, you will begin to see brightening on the opposite side from where the diamond ring shone at the beginning. This is the lower atmosphere of the sun, beginning to peek out from behind the moon and it is your signal to stop looking directly at the eclipse. Make sure your eclipse glasses are back on – or you are otherwise watching the eclipse through a safe, indirect method – before the first flash of sunlight appears around the edges of the moon.”
Diamond Ring, Bailey’s Beads and Shadow Bands — Again
- “Once your eyes are protected again, you may continue to watch the final stages of the eclipse as the end process mirrors the beginning: You will again see the diamond ring, Baily’s Beads, and shadow bands before the entire sun is visible.”