Total solar eclipse – What to expect in 2024

Get ready to be awestruck, stargazers and science enthusiasts alike! The year 2024 brings with it a celestial spectacle not to be missed: a total solar eclipse, learn what to expect. 

But before you jump for joy and head outside, there’s more to an eclipse than meets the eye (pun intended!). Let’s unravel the mysteries and explore what you can expect during this remarkable event.

First things first, not all eclipses are created equal. 

While the 2024 eclipse is total, meaning the Moon completely covers the Sun’s disk, there are other types too. A partial eclipse reveals only a part of the sun. An annular eclipse creates a “ring of fire” effect when the Moon is at its farthest point and appears smaller than the Sun. Remember, a lunar eclipse happens when the Earth casts its shadow on the Moon, a different phenomenon altogether.

Why is this eclipse special?

It’s the first total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States since 2017, and the next won’t occur until 2045! People across a narrow path of totality stretching from Texas to Maine will witness the Sun’s face completely blocked by the Moon. And guess who is lucky enough to be in that path of totality, you’re right – THIS GIRL!!  I’m so excited I decided to write a blog post all about it!! But don’t worry you can still join in on the fun if you’re outside the path; a partial eclipse will be observable throughout all 48 states. You can still enjoy the Solar Corona like me (you’ll appreciate the play on words later in the article when we explore possible party ideas!)

So, lets get a little nerdy and explore what exactly happens during total solar eclipse totality?

Buckle up… As the Moon gradually covers the Sun, the sky darkens like dusk. Animals may become confused, and the temperature can drop by a few degrees. Be sure to use protective eclipse glasses with the proper certification (ISO 12312-2) to safely observe the Sun’s corona, visible only during totality.

Remember, looking directly at the Sun, even during a partial eclipse, can cause permanent damage to your eyes. I won’t be tempted to use sunglasses (and neither should you), homemade filters, or even your phone camera; only certified eclipse glasses will protect your vision.

It’s the perfect time of year to start to venture outdoors here in WNY, weather permitting, but is also crucial for viewing the eclipse. Cloud cover can easily spoil the show. Consider researching historical weather patterns for your location and have backup plans just in case.

Want to participate although not in the path of totality? 

Mark your calendars for April 8th, 2024, and don’t miss this incredible opportunity to witness a natural wonder. Whether you’re in the path of totality, like I am here in Western New York, or enjoying a partial eclipse, remember safety first. Always remember to use your protective glasses, and prepare to be amazed by the power of the cosmos. As astrophysicist Michael Zeiler rightly says, “Eclipses are windows into the universe, a chance to see nature put on a spectacular show.”

Bonus Tip: Want to dive deeper? Check out NASA’s eclipse website for detailed information, maps, and safety tips:

Since the 2024 total solar eclipse promises to be an unforgettable experience, what better way to enjoy it than with an eclipse party? So, gather your fellow stargazers and prepare for a night under the (partially obscured) sky!

First things first, safety is paramount.

Ensure everyone has certified eclipse glasses to safely view the Sun’s corona and the partial eclipse phases. Set up designated viewing areas with ample seating. For the little party goers, research how to make their own viewers using cardboard boxes and paper – a safe way to view the image and keep them busy at the same time.

Food and drinks are a must for any party, lets apply a total solar eclipse theme!

Channel the celestial theme with sun-shaped cookies, moon pies, starry snacks and Sun Chips to snack on. Keep drinks cool with “lunar lemonade”, “solar smoothies” or a supply of Corona’s (the cold ones with a lime!)  You could play eclipse-themed music. For inspiration, Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, Smash Mouth’s Walkin on the Sun, Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun or even Bill Withers Aint no Sunshine. You could also provide annular solar eclipse trivia to keep the atmosphere buzzing. For an extra touch, decorate with eclipse decor consisting of stars, and planets.

As the lunar node aligns and the Moon’s shadow races across the land, let the excitement build! Discuss the science behind the phenomenon, and marvel at the Sun’s apparent size shrinking before your very eyes. Remember, this is a rare chance to witness a total solar eclipse from the United States, so make the most of it!

Capture the memories and challenge guests to take photos and videos (using eclipse glasses, of course!) of the partially eclipsed sun and the dark disk during totality. Share your experience on social media using the hashtag #EclipseParty2024. With some planning and creativity, your eclipse party will be an event to remember under the heavens!

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