On Monday, April 8, 2024, the United States is lucky enough to be in the shadow of the Moon again. This is less than 7 years after the wonderful eclipse we witnessed on Aug. 21, 2017. The 2017 total solar eclipse introduced millions of people to a spectacular astronomical event; watching the Sun be obscured by the passing Moon and seeing that black dot in the sky surrounded by the glistening corona.
Millions experienced the geometry of standing in the umbra, the shadow of the Moon, and becoming part of a 94 million-mile alignment of the Sun, Moon, and Earth.
For some who experienced the 2017 eclipse, once will be enough. They’ll say “been there, done that” and they will not make the effort to travel to the path again. However, I believe that the vast majority of people who witnessed the eclipse in 2017 will want that awesome experience again and will make plans to see the 2024 eclipse.
I have spoken to dozens of people who missed seeing totality in 2017 and regretted it tremendously afterward when they heard stories about how spectacular it was. These people will certainly not miss it again in 2024.
Furthermore, the 2017 eclipse simply increased everyone’s awareness about solar eclipses and the 2024 eclipse will create even more of a buzz. And we won’t be disappointed because compared to 2017, this is a long eclipse! In 2017, the maximum totality duration was 2 minutes and 40 seconds in southern Illinois and western Kentucky. In 2024, the maximum totality duration is 4 minutes and 26 seconds in Texas and it stays over 4 minutes from Texas to the middle of Indiana!
Millions more to witness 2024 eclipse
Versus 2017, besides the increased eclipse awareness, a big factor contributing to more people witnessing the 2024 eclipse is the fact that its path crosses over more densely populated areas. It also has a wider umbra, so it covers more square miles of land.
Michael Zeiler is an eclipse cartographer who publishes beautifully detailed eclipse maps that are truly works of art. His extensive experience with map creating also allows him to drill down and publish maps that include interesting data such as cities in the path or national parks in the path.
Zeiler estimates that 32 million people live in the path of the 2024 eclipse!