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Total Solar Eclipse 2024 is different from 2017, with longer totality. Here’s why


A solar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Moon, and Earth align in a row, with the Moon between the Sun and Earth casting a shadow on Earth. This year’s first solar eclipse, on April 8, will be a “total solar eclipse”, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada. But it won’t be visible from India, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Solar eclipses come in three types: total, annular, and partial, depending on how the Sun, Moon, and Earth align.(NASA)

Solar eclipses occur in three ways, i.e total, annular, and partial, depending on how the Sun, Moon, and Earth align.

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Graphical representation of a solar eclipse(NASA)
Graphical representation of a solar eclipse(NASA)
From left to right, these images show a total solar eclipse, annular solar eclipse, and partial solar eclipse.(NASA)
From left to right, these images show a total solar eclipse, annular solar eclipse, and partial solar eclipse.(NASA)

What is a ‘Total Solar Eclipse’?

A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves between the Sun and Earth, “completely blocking the Sun’s face”. Observers positioned at the centre of the Moon’s shadow witness a total eclipse as it reaches Earth. The sky darkens, resembling dawn or dusk.

If weather permits, those in the path of totality can witness the Sun’s corona, its outer atmosphere, typically hidden by the Sun’s brightness.

According to the NASA, during a total solar eclipse, the viewers are advised to briefly remove their eclipse glasses (distinct from regular sunglasses) only when the Moon fully covers the Sun.

Here’s why it is different from 2017

NASA mentioned that in April, the total eclipse will last longer than it did in 2017 during which the longest totality period was near Carbondale, Illinois, at 2 minutes, 42 seconds. This time, totality will extend up to 4 minutes, 28 seconds.

During any total solar eclipse, the longest totality occurs near the centre of the path and decreases toward the edge.

The path where viewers can see the Moon fully blocks the Sun, revealing its outer atmosphere, called the corona, is wider during the upcoming total solar eclipse compared to the 2017 eclipse.

As the Moon travels around Earth, its distance changes. In 2017, it was slightly farther from Earth than it will be during the upcoming eclipse, resulting in a narrower path. In 2017, the path was 62 to 71 miles wide, while in April, it will range from 108 to 122 miles wide over North America. This indicates that the upcoming eclipse covers more area at any given time.



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