North America will experience two spectacular solar eclipses within a six-month span, from October 14, 2023, to April 8, 2024.
The first is an annular eclipse whose central path runs across the western US from Oregon to Texas before crossing Central America and northern South America.
The second is a total solar eclipse that initially makes landfall near Mazatlán, Mexico, before sweeping across the continent to Newfoundland, Canada. Both are poised to once again expose millions of people to the wonder of eclipses.
Reading the map
On NASA’s new eclipse map, the paths for the annular eclipse and total eclipse appear as dark bands across the US.
Anyone in the path of the annular eclipse, from Oregon to Texas, will have a chance to view the annular eclipse if the sky is clear. Anyone in the path of the total eclipse, from Texas to Maine, will have a chance to view the total eclipse, weather permitting.
Inside those dark paths are oval shapes with times inside them (yellow ovals for annular eclipse, purple ovals for total eclipse). These ovals show the shape of the Moon’s shadow on the Earth’s surface at the times shown. People in the areas inside the ovals will see the annular eclipse or the total eclipse at that time.
For locations near the center of roads, the annular eclipse or total eclipse will last longer than those near the outer edges of the road. Within each path are white lines indicating how long annularity or totality will last.
Making the map
The 2017 eclipse left a dramatic impression on millions of Americans, so we can expect huge public and media interest in the 2024 eclipse. And this one will be even bigger and better! Consider:
- The 2024 eclipse is almost twice as long in totality as the 2017 eclipse.
- A total of 31.6 million people in the US already live within the path of totality of the 2024 event. (Only 12 million people lived within the path of the 2017 eclipse.)
- Major metropolitan areas on the East Coast, such as Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, are about 200 miles (320 km) from the path of totality, making a short eclipse trip possible for many more millions of people.
Michala Garrison, a member of the Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, applied her expertise in geography and cartography to design the map, incorporating information from a variety of NASA sources.
Information on Earth’s elevation came from the Shuttle Radar Survey Mission, while maps of the Moon’s shape were provided by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
The positions of the sun, moon, and Earth were found using software and data from NASA’s Navigation and Auxiliary Information Facility. Garrison’s SVS colleague Ernie Wright used all this information to calculate the location and shape of the Moon’s shadow.
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