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On August 21, 2017, millions of Americans witnessed the Moon passing between the Earth and Sun in a total eclipse. If you missed it, your next opportunity is on the horizon. In addition to a big annular solar eclipse this fall, there will be another opportunity in 2024. The April 8, 2024 event will be a total solar eclipse that will cross Mexico, the central and eastern United States, and portions of Canada. Total eclipse? Annular? What’s the difference?
An Annular Solar Eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, when it is at or near its farthest point from Earth. Because of its location, the Moon appears smaller and does not completely cover the Sun and will appear as a dark circle on top of a larger bright disc (the Sun).
A Total Solar Eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and completely blocks the face of the Sun. The parts of the Earth located in the Moon’s shadow will see the sky darken as if during dawn or dusk. Weather permitting, a total eclipse is the only time that viewers can see the Sun’s corona, the outer atmosphere, because it is usually obscured by the bright face of the Sun.
A Partial Solar Eclipse is when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, but the Earth, Sun and Moon are not completely aligned. With only a part of the Sun covered by the Moon, it appears to have a crescent shape. During a Total Solar Eclipse, people viewing from areas of Earth outside the moon’s shadow will see a partial Solar Eclipse.
A Hybrid Solar Eclipse occurs because the Earth’s surface is curved. An Eclipse can shift between Annular and Total as the Moon’s shadow moves across the Sun. Being able to view that eclipse depends on your location in the world.
2023 Annular Solar Eclipse – Saturday, October 14th
2024 Total Solar Eclipse – Monday, April 8th