February 25, 2024

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Why will this eclipse be so different from the 2017 version?

Why will this eclipse be so different from the 2017 version?

April 2024 will bring something exciting for skywatchers: a total solar eclipse.

On Monday, April 8, a total solar eclipse will pass across North America, passing through Mexico, the United States and Canada. The eclipse will begin over the South Pacific Ocean. Weather permitting, the first location in continental North America to witness the total eclipse is Mexico's Pacific coast at approximately 11:07 a.m. PT.

According to the Washington Post. The upcoming total solar eclipse coincides with a period when the Sun is particularly active. Solar physicist Scott McIntosh told the newspaper that an active sun would appear very prickly, like “a very angry little hedgehog.”

Read more: How to watch the eclipse safely

Scientists say the sun is approaching its most active cycle this year, which means it will emit more solar flares and explosions from its surface, which could make this year's total solar eclipse more dynamic.

The 2024 eclipse will bring back memories of the 2017 eclipse, when an estimated 88% of American adults watched the moon pass in front of the sun either live or online. NASA said this year's edition could be more exciting due to “differences in trajectory, timing, and scientific research.”

Here is NASA's explanation:

The path of totality — where viewers can see the Moon completely blocking the Sun, exposing the star's outer atmosphere, called the corona — is much wider during the upcoming total solar eclipse than it was during the eclipse in 2017. As the Moon orbits Earth, its distance from our planet varies . During the 2017 total solar eclipse, the Moon was slightly further away from Earth than it will be during the next total solar eclipse, causing the path of this eclipse to be a little slimmer. In 2017, the route ranged from about 62 to 71 miles in width. During the April eclipse, the path over North America will be between 108 and 122 miles wide, meaning that at any given moment, this eclipse is covering more ground.

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The path of the 2024 eclipse will also pass over more cities and densely populated areas. An estimated 31.6 million people live in the path of totality this year, compared to 12 million people in 2017. An additional 150 million people live within 200 miles of the path of totality.

The dark gray line on this map from AccuWeather shows the path of the moon's shadow during the upcoming total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.