What you need to know about next week’s total solar eclipse

On April 8, daytime skies across North America will dim as the moon obscures sunlight. It will be the last total solar eclipse seen from the contiguous United States for the next two decades. What makes this event so historic and rare? And how should Illinoisans prepare? Find answers to all your questions here.

What kinds of solar eclipses are there?

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, casting its shadow on the planet. On average, two occur every year, though sometimes there can be as many as five. But they can only be seen from a small portion of the world. There are four types of solar eclipses.

When the moon passes between the Earth and the sun and completely blocks the sun, it creates a total solar eclipse, which is what will occur Monday in southern Illinois and other parts of the United States.

Partial eclipses occur when these celestial bodies don’t perfectly line up but the sun is still partially covered by the moon, thus adopting a crescent shape. Chicago will see a partial eclipse Monday.

In October 2023, Chicago skies darkened as the area experienced an annular solar eclipse. This happens when the moon passes across the sun while roughly at its farthest point from the Earth in the lunar orbit. Because the moon appears smaller than the sun and doesn’t cover it completely, sun rays simulate a “ring of fire” around the moon.

Occasionally, an eclipse can shift between annular and total as the moon’s shadow moves across Earth’s curved surface, causing a hybrid solar eclipse.

How unusual is a total solar eclipse?

The moon’s path during an eclipse often covers less than 1% of the Earth’s surface, making it a rare sight for humans to experience. Furthermore, a total solar eclipse can only be seen, on average, every 375 years from any given location on the planet.

It’s even rarer for two of these phenomena to occur within a decade of each other in the same place, yet parts of Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois saw a total eclipse in 2017 and will see another one this year.

Where and when will the eclipse be visible?

Only those in the 115-mile-wide lunar shadow — known as the path of totality — will see the moon cover the sun completely. This includes areas in 15 states: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Source link


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *