A solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes directly between Earth and the Sun, casting a shadow across the surface of the planet. During totality (a brief period of awe-inspiring darkness), the Sun’s bright face will fade to a deep twilight blue, and the Sun’s glowing outer atmosphere, called the corona, will reveal itself in a stunning display of light and color. Total solar eclipses only happen in a narrow path swept out by the Moon’s dark shadow, or umbra. Viewers outside the path experience a partial eclipse, or annular eclipse (Latin for “ring of fire”). For details on when and where to see the next eclipse in North America, check out this map from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
In 2024, the eclipse’s path of totality will run from Mexico to eastern Canada, with the entire United States observing at least a partial eclipse. And if you can’t wait for that, this weekend, the Lyrid meteor shower will reach its peak.
Remember, it’s always dangerous to look directly at the Sun without special-purpose eye protection, even during a total eclipse. The sunlight’s ultraviolet radiation can damage your retinas, and you could end up permanently blind. But you can protect your eyes by using a pinhole camera or a pair of special solar eclipse glasses. You can also find events in parks that will offer safe viewing and educational programming.