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Galaxy Club

Great North American Total Solar Eclipse, 2024

On April 8, 2024, it is estimated that over 50 million Americans will witness one of nature's splendors, a total solar eclipse!  You'll remember the last eclipse of this kind in the country was in 2017.  The 115 mile wide shadow of the Moon will cross from Mexico, through Texas, Arkansas, again through southern Illinois, and on to Indiana, northern Ohio, upstate New York and Maine on Monday afternoon, April 8, 2024, completely covering the Sun for 3 minutes, 49 seconds. 







"Why is this happening?"


The Moon orbits our Earth roughly once a month, which is our basis for the month.  During new Moon the Moon is in the same general direction as our Sun but the Moon's orbit it tilted five degrees.   This isn't much but it is enough for us to see the Moon usually pass above or below our Sun, hence we don't have one solar and one lunar eclipse each month.  The Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun but it is also 400 times closer to us.  Thus they appear roughly the same size in our sky.  Most of the time the Moon's shadow misses our Earth.   A couple of times per year it strikes our Earth, but observers have to be in that shadow to see the eclipse.  If you miss this eclipse, you'll have to wait until August 12, 2045 for the next one! 



"If I stay in Champaign County, what will I see?"


At 12:47am the Moon will begin to cover the Sun.  Maximum coverage occurs at 2:05pm on April 8, and 98% of the Sun will be covered.  Compare this to 93% in 2017.   CAUTION:  2% of the Sun can still blind you!!  The event will be over by 3:20pm.  Note that there are no events occurring at the Staerkel Planetarium on this day.   The staff will watch the eclipse from southern Illinois. 


"Where can I go to get a good view?"


It is still very early to make plans for an eclipse in 2014 but, as the map shows, Southern Illinois is the place to be.  The northern limit of the total eclipse path runs along a line from Effingham to Paris Illinois.    The Staerkel Planetarium, CU Astronomical Society, and Twin City Amateur Astronomers have been invited back to Camp Ondessonk, near Ozark, IL. It is a 3.5 hour drive down I-57.  Plans are uncertain at this time. 


"But you should never look at the Sun, how can you see this event safely?"


True, never look at the Sun without appropriate protection.  Sunglasses are NOT appropriate protection!!   There are ways to see the eclipse safely:

  • Purchase some mylar eclipse glasses (both the Staerkel Planetarium and the CUAS hope to have these for sale to the public.  Don't wait until 2024 to get yours!)
  • Use a #14 welders glass
  • If you use a telescope solar filter, be sure the filter covers the end of the telescope!   Filters that thread into a telescope's eyepiece should NOT be used!  They are unsafe!
  • Build a "sun funnel" to be used with a telescope.   Aim the telescope at the Sun using its shadow. 
  • Project an image of the Sun with a telescope or binoculars by placing an index card 6-8 inches beyond the eyepiece.  Again, use the instrument's shadow to point to the Sun. 
  • Build a pin-hole projector either using two sheets of card stock paper or with a shoebox


Useful links (note most of these are from the 2017 event):