© 2018 Acme Atron-O-Matic, LLC
Contact Us
Privacy Policy
Notice to California Residents
Do Not Sell My Information


2024 Solar Eclipse: Forecasts, Timing, and Fantastic Facts

by Will Cano | News Contributor


Few events can capture the attention of an entire nation. Holidays, the Super Bowl, and president elections all make the list, yet they have a reliable schedule and repetition. The Solar Eclipse is elusive yet eye-catching, and commands media attention.

April 8th, 2024 is the first Total Solar Eclipse across the contiguous United States since 2017, and the last one until 2044. It is an event that some have waited months for as it is truly an extraordinary experience. But for those of us who have never witnessed a total eclipse, what's the big deal? I'll be the first to tell you that it is far more than a big shadow. 

What makes a Solar Eclipse?

The solar eclipse is a phenomena that is rare at any given point on Earth, and it is exceptionally rare as a celestial event in general. It is the process of the moon's orbit moving directly between the Earth and the Sun. As a result, the moon covers the sun and darkness is cast over a circular zone of our planet. While this process remains the same every time, it varies in magnitude. There are three different types of solar eclipses: Partial, Annular, and Total Eclipses. 

A partial eclipse is when the moon crosses in front of the sun but does not pass perfectly over it, carving out a crescent-like shape.

Annular eclipses are when the moon crosses directly in front of the sun, yet it is far from Earth in its orbit. This makes the moon appear smaller, and it does not fully cover the sun. Rather, it creates a washer-like shape called the 'Ring of Fire'. This is where the term annular came from (anulus is 'little ring' in Latin)...it is not a yearly occurrence. 


The three separate types of solar eclipses. April 8th will be a 'total' eclipse. NASA Jet Propulsion Lab

These eclipses are why total eclipses are so spectacular. Everything lines up perfect so that the moon covers the same diameter as the sun in our sky while passing directly in front of it. This is only possible because the sun is roughly 400 times the size of the moon, and the moon is just about 400 times closer to Earth than the sun is. 

The results that we experience during totality can be breathtaking. For almost 4 minutes, darkness will consume the sky. Temperatures will drop by a few degrees, especially in cloudless areas. At the horizons, a 360-degree glow will be seen, as if the sun was rising in all directions. 

In the moments before the moon fully eclipses the sun, light is only able to penetrate through valleys and crevices of the moon's surface. This results in circular bright spots on the edge of the moon that have been coined "Baily's Beads" by scientists. Seconds later, all of these bright spots seemingly merge into one, giving the sun's last glimmer of light the appearance of a "Diamond Ring". 


A close-up image of Baily's Beads, where light seeps through the ridges and valleys on the moon's surface. Sky&Telescope

The eclipse reaches its peak when the moon completely blocks the sun. Only at this point can viewers can take their eclipse glasses off because none of the sun's light is making it to Earth's surface. What is visible is the sun's Corona, or atmosphere, breathing around the moon with pulses of energy. 


A colorized image of the sun's Corona, or atmosphere, surrounding the moon during the total solar eclipse in August 2017. NASA


The solar eclipse will traverse a path across the United States from Texas to Maine. The bounds of this path are where the path of totality will be visible, and it's only about 115 miles wide. Areas outside of that will still experience the eclipse and some darkness, but they will not see the same phenomena described above. 

For the South and Midwest, the states with the most coverage based on area will be Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois. The eclipse will reach totality between 1:30 and 2:00 PM Central time, respectively, from southwest to northeast. San Antonio, Dallas, and Little Rock are all in this path.

For folks in Eastern time, peak eclipse viewing will be between 3:00 and 3:30 PM. The best areas for viewing totality include Indiana, Ohio, Upstate New York, and Maine. Full coverage of the sun will be witnessed in Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Burlington. 

For timing across the United States, see the graphic below produced by NASA. 

For local timing and updates by the minute for your location, check out a solar eclipse timer like the one listed here: https://www.solareclipsetimer.com/ 


The official NASA Eclipse map, which shows the timing, location, and duration of totality across the Lower 48. NASA


Obviously, the solar eclipse is not so spectacular above a ceiling of clouds. Some locations will inevitably get the short end of the stick, but there should be multiple spots along the path that have clear skies for optimal viewing. Let's take a deeper look. 

South-Central US: Texas, although climatologically favorable when it comes to cloud cover this time of year, may struggle with overcast skies during the eclipse. This is especially true across the southeast potion of the state, where rain showers are likely. Areas like Dallas may escape this rain, but will have a low and high-level clouds to deal with around 1:45PM on Monday. 

Arkansas, on the other hand, looks to be more optimal. The clearest of the state will be in the northeast, where high-level cirrus should will not obstruct the view of the eclipse significantly. This clear patch will extend into southeastern Missouri and extreme western Kentucky. Little Rock, AK and Paducah, KY are promising viewing spots. 


The National Blend of Models (NBM) forecasting the percent of sky area that will be covered by clouds around 2PM CDT. It is overlaid with a forecast for best views in the path of totality. WeatherBell

Ohio River Valley: Southern Illinois is also likely to have high, wispy clouds at the time of the eclipse. This may slightly obstruct viewing, but it will be the best location across the Midwest. Clear skies will prevail just to the north, so with some luck, they will penetrate southward into the path of totality.

Indianapolis and central Indiana are likely to be cloudier, but breaks in the clouds are still possible. Conditions worsen as you travel to the north and east through Ohio and northwest Pennsylvania, where showers will hinder viewing conditions in these areas. 


(LEFT) The NBM forecasted cloud cover for the Midwest and (RIGHT) a simulated sounding, or atmospheric profile, for Indianapolis at the time of the eclipse. Where the red line (temperature) and green line (dew point) meet, clouds will form. This represents the mid to upper-level clouds that are forecasted at the time of the eclipse. WeatherBell, Tropical Tidbits 

Eastern Great Lakes/Northeast: Areas across upstate New York, such as Syracuse and Buffalo, will also have high clouds to deal with. In addition, mid-level clouds may further obscure viewing. Breaks in these clouds are likely, but the best chances for a clear shot of the eclipse across the Great Lakes are closer to the Tug Hill Plateau. 

Points north and east of this region are the most promising. The eastern Adirondacks and Green Mountains have been forecasting clear skies all week, and all signs point to this forecast verifying. This will continue into New Hampshire and Maine for some of the best viewing conditions across the nation. 


The NBM forecasted cloud cover for the Northeast at the time of the eclipse. WeatherBell

For nationwide updates on cloud cover from the National Weather Service, check out this link: https://www.weather.gov/bou/2024SolarEclipse 

Fun Facts

While looking up at our generational event on Monday, keep these tidbits in mind:

  • The sun is currently at its 'Solar Maximum', or most active phase, in an 11-year cycle. The Corona will be especially picturesque for this reason. 
  • Venus and Jupiter will be visible during the eclipse (pending clear skies). Venus will appear 10 minutes before totality, while Jupiter will reveal itself during totality. 
  • Solar eclipse glasses are made of black polymer, which is resin which contains carbon particles. It reflects all sources of infrared and ultraviolet radiation. 
  • Total solar eclipse are only possible during a full moon. Full moons only occur 36 out of the 365 days a calendar year, contributing to total eclipse's rarity. 
  • The first solar eclipse was not accurately predicted until 1715, when astronomer Edmond Halley's prediction was only 4 minutes off. Today, we can predict eclipses up to 1000 years out.
  • The moon is moving away from Earth at a rate of one inch per year. Once it moves far enough, total eclipses will be a thing of the past on our planet. 

Stay tuned to MyRadar for video and social media updates, and check out our app for an interactive path of totality free for all users.