Watch CBS News

A total solar eclipse will darken U.S. skies in April 2024. Here's what to know about the rare event.

"Ring of fire" eclipse seen across the U.S.
Breathtaking "ring of fire" eclipse seen across the U.S. 02:13

An upcoming solar eclipse will be visible for millions of Americans this year. Here's where you can see the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024 and how to watch it.

When is the total solar eclipse?

The next total solar eclipse will happen on April 8, 2024, starting on Mexico's Pacific coast at around 11:07 a.m. PDT. It will then travel across parts of the U.S. and into Canada and will leave continental North America at 5:19 p.m. EDT.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, blocking the sun's light. When the moon blocks some of the sun, a partial solar eclipse occurs, but when moon lines up with the sun, blocking all of its light, a total solar eclipse occurs, NASA says.

During a total solar eclipse, the moon will cast a shadow on Earth as our plane rotates. This is called the path of totality – where the total solar eclipse is visible.

After the April 8 total solar eclipse this year, the next total solar eclipse that visible from the U.S. will occur on Aug. 23, 2044. The last total solar eclipse was visible from the U.S. happened in August 2017  — it was the first total eclipse to pass over the entire continent in nearly 100 years.

An annular solar eclipse was visible for parts of the U.S. on Oct. 14, 2023, but the sun wasn't totally covered, according to NASA.

Where will the total solar eclipse be visible?

About 31.6 million people live in the 200-mile path of totality — the path where the total solar eclipse will be visible, according to NASA. For the 2017 eclipse, an estimated 12 million people were able to see a total solar eclipse. 

After passing over Mexico in the early afternoon, southern Texas will be able to see the full total eclipse around 1:40 p.m. local time. Parts of Oklahoma will start to see the full eclipse starting at 1:45 p.m., then Arkansas at around 1:51 p.m. and southeast Missouri around 1:56 p.m. 

The total eclipse will hit Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana around 2 p.m. and Ohio around 3:13 p.m. 

Parts of Pennsylvania will then start to see the total eclipse around 3:16 p.m. and parts of northwestern New York will see it shortly after at 3:18 p.m.

It will then move over parts of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine before hitting Canada around 4:25 p.m. 

Map of total solar eclipse path

NASA has created a map that shows the path of the eclipse from Mexico across several U.S. states and into northeast Canada. 

Map of the path of a solar eclipse across the U.S.
The next total solar eclipse will happen on April 8, 2024, starting on Mexico's Pacific coast and then crossing a swath of the United States. NASA

The eclipse will begin at around 11:07 a.m. PDT.  It will then travel to the northeast across parts of the U.S. and into Canada. It will leave continental North America at 5:19 p.m. EDT.

Chart showing what times the eclipse will be visible in different cities
A table of the best times to see the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. NASA

How can you safely watch the solar eclipse?

When the sun is partially covered by the moon, it is important to use protective eclipse glasses to avoid eye injury. Only when the sun is fully covered is it OK to look at it with your eyes, but parts of the sun will be visible before and after the eclipse reaches its brief totality.

Eclipse glasses are not sunglasses – they are a thousand times darker and must comply with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard, according to NASA. The American Astronomical Society has a list of approved solar viewers.

NASA also says you should not look at the eclipse through a camera lens, bionoculars or telescope, even while wearing eclipse glasses. The solar rays can burn through the lens and cause serious eye injury.

There are also indirect ways to view the eclipse like through a homemade pinhole projector.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.