Your last-minute guide to the 2024 total solar eclipse

large eclipse glasses

Millions of people are inside the path of totality in the United States for the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse. Cities in the path are making plans to celebrate the event, like erecting giant eclipse glasses.


For many living in North America, April 8 will be a day to remember for years to come.

The moon is going to travel between the sun and Earth, blocking the fiery ball from our view in the middle of the day, causing a total solar eclipse (SN: 1/4/24). Tens of millions of people in the path of totality will experience up to 4.5 minutes of darkness, nearly two minutes longer than the 2017 Great American Eclipse. People not in the path of totality will still get to enjoy the partial blockage for at least a few minutes or longer, depending on their location.

Here are answers to some of the biggest questions about watching this incredible event.

When and where can I watch the eclipse?

The sun’s shadow is scheduled to enter North America via the west coast of Mexico around 12 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time. The path of totality then continues diagonally across the continental United States, hitting states such as Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio and New York, Vermont and Maine. It creeps into Canada via Ontario and Quebec, before finally exiting through Newfoundland and Labrador at about 5:15 p.m. Newfoundland Daylight Time.

This interactive map from NASA can help you prepare for your eclipse viewing. Search and click on your location, and a pop-up panel will inform you of the spot’s weather and the exact times of the solar eclipse’s progression.

What are eclipse glasses and where can I get them?

Wearing proper eyewear is essential. Regular sunglasses will not protect you when you look directly at the sun (SNE: 4/27/17). And you do not want to stare at the sun with naked eyes; that can damage your eyes. Therefore, you need to get your hands on eclipse glasses if you have not already done so.

It might be too late for you to order a pair from an online retailer. Plus, the American Astronomical Society issued a warning on counterfeit and fake eclipse glasses that are sold on the internet. It posted lists of trusted manufacturers and vendors that sell pairs that are ISO certified, which ensures safety. Both webpages can also be helpful when checking the validity of the glasses that you already own.

Fear not if you have not secured eclipse glasses. Big-box stores such as Lowe’s Home Improvement might still have some in stock. You might also be able to pick up a free pair of eclipse glasses at a library, museum or Warby Parker store.

What if I don’t get a pair of eclipse glasses in time?

colander eclipse
A shadow of a colander shows crescent shapes during a 2023 partial eclipse in Southern California.Maureen P Sullivan/Getty Images Plus

There are still several ways to observe the eclipse. One of the easiest ways is to use a strainer or a colander — or any object with holes, really — to observe the object’s shadow. You can also cross your fingers so they look like a waffle to create holes if you’re in a pinch. It might feel less exciting than watching the sun itself, but it is still pretty cool to see the shadows going from their original shapes to crescents as the moon overtakes the sun. You can also devise your own pinhole camera if you are feeling crafty.

There will also be plenty of livestreams. U.S. National Science Foundation will stream one from Dallas. NASA will offer several, including one in Spanish and another with a telescope feed. The agency will also broadcast the launch of three rockets during the eclipse to study how the dimming of the sun affects Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Other science projects will also offer live feeds. One example is the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project, which will send weather balloons to observe the atmospheric perturbations during the eclipse. Participating teams plan to stream the views from the edge of space.

Are there cool science phenomena to watch out for?

If you happen to look away from the sun, you may notice a perceived shift in color occurring on Earth (SN: 4/1/24). Blues and green will become more noticeable, while reds become dark or even black. And because the sun will be close to its solar maximum, people might be able to see petal-like streams or a large puff of gas shooting away from the star’s surface (SN: 1/4/24).

For more eclipse stories, our student magazine Science News Explores prepared a special issue for young eclipse watchers, and our publisher Society for Science collected resources, ready for you to browse.

How can I take good pictures of the solar eclipse using a smartphone?

You can place a solar filter or an extra pair of eclipse glasses in front of the smartphone’s lens to photograph the partial eclipse. But make sure to remove the filter during the totality. Also, don’t forget to turn of the camera’s flash. has an eight-step guide for acing the shots.

Are there any cool citizen science projects that I can participate in?

There are a few that are still taking volunteers. One is SunSketcher. Using the SunSketcher app to capture images of the sun will help scientists to study the bright spots called Baily’s beads that appear before and after totality. Download the app on your phone and start running it at least five minutes before the total eclipse to contribute.

The Eclipse Soundscapes Project will collect sound data to study how eclipses affect life on Earth. It might be too late to sign up to become a data collector, but you can still participate by becoming a data analyst.

When is the next total solar eclipse?

There will not be a total eclipse in the United States and Canada for another 20 years. But if you’re up for travel, other countries will experience totality before 2044 (SN: 4/4/24) . For example, Spain will be on the path of totality in 2026 and 2027, China and Japan in 2035, and Australia in 2028, 2030, 2037 and 2038.

And stay tuned for coverage from our astronomy writer Adam Mann, who will be on-site near Dallas with some scientists studying — and experiencing the wonder — of this total solar eclipse.   

Karen Kwon is the research and special projects editor at Science News. She earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia University and a master’s degree in journalism from New York University’s Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program.

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