Eclipse map 2024

Driftless Dark Skies: North American Eclipse (March 2024)

Earth, Moon, and Sun align on Monday, April 8 for skygazers to be wowed by a Solar Eclipse. Here in the Driftless Area, the show starts around 12:50pm when the New Moon takes a “bite” out of the Sun as it moves in front of it. Maximum eclipse happens around 2:05pm when the Moon covers about 85% of the Sun. Then the partial eclipse plays out in reverse and ends around 3:20pm. Eclipses are very kid-friendly and a wonderful way to make a connection with the cosmos.

There are many ways to enjoy an eclipse safely. Solar viewers “eclipse glasses” are inexpensive and can be ordered online. They may also be available at some local libraries and nature centers. The American Astronomical Society is your most trustworthy source to learn about eye safety and which manufacturers meet safety requirements. AAS also explains how to project an image of the eclipse with a pinhole or colander or crossed fingers or the leaves of a tree. The Planetary Society is a great place to learn more about eclipses and how to enjoy them.

A partial solar eclipse is “pleasingly beautiful”. You can enjoy one without leaving home. A total eclipse is “sublimely grand”. But you need to travel to see it. The path of totality is 115 miles wide and passes from the Pacific Ocean at Mazatlan Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean at Gander Newfoundland. From the Driftless, totality is as close as a day’s drive to southern Illinois, Indiana, or Missouri. If your life, health, and finances allow, I urge everyone to experience a total solar eclipse at least once in your lifetime. The one I experienced in August 2017 was my most awesome skywatching experience ever. If you are waiting for the next total solar eclipse in the contiguous United States, that’s August 23, 2044. If you are waiting for one to pass through the Driftless Area, mark September 14, 2099 on your calendar.

Whether it’s partial or total, I hope you can make some memories with your family and friends on April 8!

John Heasley is an astronomy educator and stargazer who enjoys connecting people with the cosmos. He volunteers with NASA/JPL as a Solar System Ambassador , with the International Dark-Sky Association as an Advocate, and the International Astronomical Union as a Dark Sky Ambassador. For more information about stargazing in southwest WI, like Driftless Stargazing LLC on Facebook and find out whenever there’s something awesome happening in the skies.

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