Only three years, precisely, until the Great North American Solar Eclipse of 2024

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Remember back on Aug. 21, 2017, when a coast-to-coast total solar eclipse was the most widely viewed total solar eclipse in history?

The outer atmosphere of the sun — the corona — offered a stunning reveal, when the solar disk was completely blotted out. Solar prominences — glowing plumes of gas — were observed through telescopes on the outer edge (limb) of the moon.

Don Stevens, director of Perkins Observatory at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, points out that the element chromium was discovered in the sun’s atmosphere, which is where the name comes from, along with helium (named for Helios, the Greek sun god).

The total solar eclipse in Aug. 2017 had a path of a totality of 70 miles wide, centered along a line through western Kentucky and southern Tennessee. Along this bounded area, the moon blocked out 100 percent of the sun for a period of two minutes as it passed between the sun and earth. In Columbus, about 86 percent of the sun was covered by the moon around 2:30 p.m.

Total solar eclipse, Aug. 21, 2017, viewed from Wyoming. (Image courtesy Don Stevens, OWU)
“Diamond ring” effect at totality on Aug. 21, 2017. (Image courtesy Don Stevens, OWU)

Prior to 2017, the last solar eclipse partly visible in Ohio occurred in February 1979 (totality was limited to the Pacific Northwest in the U.S.). The last coast-to-coast total solar eclipse seen across the entire contiguous 48 states occurred in June 1918 (99 years earlier).

Fortunately, we would only have to wait a little less than seven years for the next one, which is coming on Apr. 8, 2024. The line of totality will stretch from northern Mexico through portions of 15 states in the U.S. and across parts of southeastern Canada. The western and north-central portions of Ohio will be in the path of totality, including northwest Franklin County, Dayton, and Cincinnati –roughly west of the Interstate 71 corridor.

The warning to not view the sun without proper sanctioned protection will apply, as always, to avoid serious eye damage, such as blurry eyesight, or even permanently impaired vision, if a person were to look directly up at the sun. Of course, you have plenty of time to acquire certified safe eclipse-viewing glasses before April 2024.

Stevens said in the short term, there will be a partial lunar eclipse is on May 26, 2021, which begins at 5:44 a.m. He said, “The moon will be under a one-third covered once it finally sets. You will need a very clear western horizon to be able to observe it.” Stevens added that no special equipment is required for viewing a lunar eclipse, which will be visible from the Pacific Ocean region and Asia to North America.

Also, on June 11 this year, there will be a partial solar eclipse this year that Stevens described as a “rare arctic region eclipse,” which will be partially visible in Ohio. He said that the sun will rise “already in eclipse at about 6:06 a.m., with less than half covered by the moon.”

As the sun rises on June 11, the sun will be less and less covered by the moon, with the eclipse ending at about 6:33 a.m. This view will require a clear view of the northeastern horizon, and as always special eclipse glasses for viewing that meet the requisite safety standards. Stevens added that there are also “special solar filters specifically designed for telescopes/binoculars,” but to be sure they are officially sanctioned by science and health officials.

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