Total Solar Eclipse 2024 - TravelQuest
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Total Solar Eclipse 2024

Eclipse Travel Guide

Did you see the “Great American Eclipse” of August 21, 2017, as it raced across the United States from the west coast to the southeast? It was a stunning sight. The skies were generally clear across the land, and millions of people witnessed the total solar eclipse. Millions more, located outside the path of totality, saw the partial phases. Were you awed by the sight of the totally eclipsed Sun and want to see the spectacle again? Or did you miss totality and are hoping for a second chance?


In either case, on April 8, 2024, you’ll have another opportunity. On that date, the “Great North American Eclipse” sweeps across portions of the continent. The 2024 solar eclipse path begins off the coast of Mexico, moves up the eastern half of the US, and passes across the Canadian Maritime provinces before ending in the Atlantic Ocean. Tens of millions of people will be in the path of totality. Will you be there with them?

The Path of Totality

The 2024 total solar eclipse first touches Earth in the Pacific Ocean at a point just north of Penrhyn Atoll in the Cook Islands. The Moon’s shadow races across the ocean, finally making continental landfall on a stretch of beach just south of Mazatlán, Mexico. Beachgoers will have their suntanning session interrupted by 4 minutes 25 seconds of totality as the 125-mile-wide (200 kilometer) lunar shadow passes overhead.

Totality then speeds northeast across Mexico, and 20 minutes after first touching land, it crosses the border between Mexico and the United States. The path of totality continues moving northeast, passing through 15 states, though only small portions of Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Michigan will see a total eclipse. Major portions of Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine will experience all aspects of a total eclipse of the Sun. It takes the lunar shadow only 65 minutes to cross from the Mexico/Texas border to the Maine/Canada border. During this time, the length of totality decreases from 4 minutes 27 seconds in southwest Texas to 3 minutes 21 seconds in northeast Maine.

During the northern part of its travels, the path of totality passes simultaneously over parts of the US and Canada. The Moon’s shadow covers all of Lake Erie and most of Lake Ontario, so observers in southern Ontario, northeastern Ohio, and northwestern New York state will all see up to 3 minutes of totality, depending on their viewing location. The path then slices through southern Quebec, central New Brunswick, the western half Prince Edward Island, and central Newfoundland before heading out into the Atlantic Ocean. Totality departs the continent from the tiny hamlet of Maberly, Newfoundland, where the Sun is totally eclipsed for 2 minutes 54 seconds. In all, it takes the Moon’s shadow a mere 95 minutes to cross the Americas from sea to sea.

As it happens, there are several large cities along the path of totality, where millions can enjoy the view (weather permitting) without ever leaving home. These cities include Mazatlán (Mexico), San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Montreal (Canada). In some cases, only part of the city is completely enveloped by the lunar shadow, so stay-at-home eclipse watchers need to carefully check their viewing location against a detailed map showing the track of totality.

If you’re looking for a 2024 solar eclipse map, one of the best can be found at Xavier Jubier’s website. His zoomable, interactive maps show solar eclipse paths across Earth’s surface for past and future totalities.

During the partial phases of the solar eclipse, you must always use safe solar filters or eclipse-viewing glasses when looking at the Sun. (Photo by Paul Deans/TQ)
During the partial phases of the solar eclipse, you must always use safe solar filters or eclipse-viewing glasses when looking at the Sun. (Photo by Paul Deans/TQ)
Only when the Moon completely covers the Sun, and its pale corona is revealed, can you gaze Sunward without using solar filters. (Photo by Rick Fienberg/TQ)
Only when the Moon completely covers the Sun, and its pale corona is revealed, can you gaze Sunward without using solar filters. (Photo by Rick Fienberg/TQ)

Basics of the 2024 Solar Eclipse

A total eclipse of the Sun is one of nature’s grandest sights. Photographs don’t do it justice; words fail to adequately describe it. Seeing totality is an experience like no other. First-time eclipse chasers are often completely unprepared for the emotions that overwhelm them when the Sun vanishes from the sky.

This incredible sight is the culmination of a perfect cosmic alignment—the Moon passing having a slightly larger apparent diameter than the Sun’s and passing directly across Sol’s. This larger apparent diameter means the Moon can completely cover the solar disk, and the result is totality. Two beautiful diamond rings herald the beginning and end of the total eclipse. Giant red arcs of gas erupting from the solar surface may appear as daylight fades. The corona, the Sun’s pale ethereal outer atmosphere, glows softly during totality, surrounding the ‘hole’ in the sky where the Sun once shone. Around the horizon is a sunset glow, while the brightest planets and stars are revealed in a darkened sky overhead. But then, all too soon, it’s over.

A total solar eclipse consists of three parts: an hour-long partial eclipse prior to totality, the all-too-brief total eclipse itself, and an hour-long, post-totality partial eclipse. When looking at the Sun, always keep safety in mind. Except during those few brief moments of totality, you must always use safe solar filters or eclipse-viewing glasses when looking Sunward. Improper solar eclipse viewing can cause eclipse blindness—a temporary (or possibly permanent) loss of vision, depending on the severity of the damage. Only during totality, when the Moon completely covers the Sun, can you gaze at it without filters. During the partial eclipse phases, safe solar filters are needed to protect your eyes (and your optics) from the Sun’s damaging rays. Our blog, “How to Safely Watch a Solar Eclipse”, describes everything you need to know about safely observing a solar eclipse.

A total solar eclipse sequence, with the Moon moving across the Sun’s face from right to left. Only when the solar disk is completely covered by the Moon (center image) is it safe to remove your eclipse glasses and solar filters. (Photo by Rick Fienberg/TQ)

Your TravelQuest Trip Options

If the crowded roads, overbooked accommodations, and overwhelming response to 2017’s Great American Eclipse are any indication, the April 8, 2024, eclipse will provoke even greater excitement. The 2024 eclipse is the last total solar eclipse to reach the continental US until August 23, 2044. The next totality elsewhere in the world is August 12, 2026; you can preview it in our “Next Total Solar Eclipse” blog.

So with literally millions of people trying to see totality 2024, it makes sense to avoid all the travel aggravation by joining TravelQuest on one of our two expeditions to totality. Doing so means a worry-free travel and eclipse experience. You’ll have guaranteed accommodations at a guaranteed price, plus meals, transportation, and admission to assorted local attractions all taken care of. Our eclipse meteorologist has selected two sites with excellent chances of clear skies, and we’ll transport you to and from our eclipse-viewing site on eclipse day.

Since its founding in 1996, TravelQuest has planned and fulfilled some 250 solar eclipse tours and astronomy-themed excursions to all seven continents. For the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse, we’re planning two trips: one to Mexico and one to Texas. During our 11-day “Mexico Total Solar Eclipse” excursion, we’ll discover the coastal highlights of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, and then travel by train into the Sierra Madre Range to the famed Copper Canyon. On our eight-day “Texas Total Solar Eclipse” trip, we’ll visit Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. On both tours, we’ll experience more than 4 minutes of totality on April 8th, eclipse day. If you’d like to stand with us in the shadow of the Moon in 2024, click on either of the two links above to learn more.

The diamond rings at 2nd contact (left) and 3rd contact (right) mark the beginning and end of totality. The interval between these two solar diamonds is the only time it’s safe to view the Sun without eclipse glasses or solar filters. (Photo by Rick Fienberg/TQ)

Header image by Jay Anderson/TQ

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