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Why is the 2024 eclipse so special?

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The 2017 total eclipse in the USA was certainly one of the most special events of our lifetimes. For the first time in over a generation, totality came to the USA and brought with it an amazing amount of expectation and excitement. For many people, the eclipse was simply spectacular – not to be missed! – and many of these people are busy right now planning for 2024!

After a nationwide event that broke so much ground, brought so many people together, and entranced the entire United States so thoroughly, you’d think that there was nothing that could serve as a suitable encore. But we have just the thing… ANOTHER total eclipse!! And this one visits all three countries of North America!

All of you who saw totality in 2017 know what we’re talking about. Those of you who didn’t see it will now get another chance. But everyone should consider why the 2024 total eclipse is so amazing. Let’s list just a few reasons:

Second total eclipse in the “21st century” series

There are so many eclipses that are going to grace the Western Hemisphere in the 21st century, and we eclipse chasers who grew up with all the “difficult” eclipses in far-off places are very jealous of young people who will get to see so many in their lifetimes! 2017 kicked everything off, and 2024 is a very worthy follow-up!

Totality passes through THREE countries!

Canada, Mexico and the USA will get to see totality this time! Yes, it’s only the northern part of Mexico, and it’s only the eastern part of Canada – but that’s good enough! Everyone in these countries has something to look forward to, and we’re hoping the 2024 eclipse will be an event to bring us all closer as a continent, to share something that everyone can enjoy together!

Different parts of the USA will see totality

Even for those in the US, totality this time will come to Texas, the upper midwest and the northeast. These areas only saw partial eclipses in 2017, so for those in Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Houston and NYC – this is an even better chance for “youse/yins/you all” to get yourselves into the path!

Many more large cities this time are in the path, and many are very close:

In 2017, Nashville was the largest city in the path. While folks in Music City had a wonderful time, in 2024 we have quite a few more large cities lying in or right on the edge of the path:

Indianapolis, Little Rock, Erie, Cleveland, San Antonio, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Evansville, Durango, Mazatlan, Montreal, Burlington, Buffalo, Austin, Fredericton, Gander.

Close to the path (and we mean within 50 miles or so!):

Cincinnati, Columbus, Utica, Memphis, San Antonio (right on the line!), Quebec, Toronto, Ottawa, Detroit, Laredo, St. Louis, Shreveport, Louisville, Moncton, St. John’s, Bangor, and Ft. Wayne – with OKC, Houston, Monterrey, Pittsburgh and Tulsa satanding in as honorable mentions!

And don’t forget the part of the USA that gets two in seven years – many people will plan to see both eclipses from there.

It’s the last one for a while in North America

The 2024 total eclipse is the last one to touch North America until March 30, 2033. The only state that sees totality then will be Alaska, and the weather prospects for March in the Arctic make this one a true challenge to get into the bag. (Eclipse chasers will likely take to the air, to see totality above the clouds!)

After that, there are certainly a lot of total eclipses, but none in North America until August 23, 2044. This one is a nice “Prairie” eclipse, coming down from Arctic Canada into North Dakota. But then, the one so many people will have been waiting for: A beautiful summertime eclipse that goes over quite a few big cities, as well as a certain theme park in Central Florida which maybe you’ve heard of before…! This is the next “GREAT NORTH AMERICAN ECLIPSE”, and it will happen on August 12, 2045. Mark your calendars now, because after the big drought of “easy” eclipses, this one is sure to bring out eclipse chasers young and old, all across the United States. (Totality also touches the island of Hispaniola, as well as the northern coast of South America!)

What this means is that, unless you are prepared to travel the world, or wait out the years until these next total eclipses in North America, the time to see totality is NOW!

Many people will now be very experienced…

Many people had no idea what to expect before, in 2017. Now, they’re veterans, and just like you pick up more of the plot of a movie on second watching, we can guarantee you that the effort you make to get into the path for you next totality will be “totally” worth it! You’ll certainly see things you didn’t notice before. Unless you’re in the special spot that sees totality for both eclipses, you’ll be in a different location this time, and most likely with different people around you. Even if you see 10, 15, 20 total eclipses or more, you will be amazed at how diverse the experience of totality can be, and how “worth it” every trip into the path will seem. It’s why so many people have become die-hard eclipse chasers, and maybe you’ll become one as well (if you haven’t already!).

…and they’ll be ready to "experience" even more this time around!

That could mean a while lot of really cool photography ideas will come out that could make 2024 the most photographed eclipse ever!

There will be a while lot more ideas for experiments that will come from the general public. Scientists will always have their amazing work to do, but the general public will be more aware of what to expect, and so can plan their own experiments with a more solid foundation of knowledge gained from their previous eclipse experience.

Big bro/sis is my best teacher, and will be my best friend for life!

Some young people will have seen totality in 2017, either at school or with a very special adult in their life. In the time between 2017 and 2024 they may acquire a younger sister/brother or two, and the 2024 eclipse can serve as a very special bonding experience between siblings. It’ll be guaranteed that big sister or brother will emerge as a lifelong hero to their younger family members, explaining everything about the eclipse in magical detail as things progress on eclipse day! Eclipse memories are made to be shared, and we can say with certainty that these extra-special bonding experiences will never be forgotten!

Totality will last a little longer this time

Because the Moon lies a little closer to the Earth during totality in 2024 (as compared to totality in 2017), it will appear just a bit larger in the sky. That means it will take the Moon a bit longer to move in its orbit across the face of the Sun. And THAT means that the 2024 eclipse will feature a longer duration of totality on the centerline!

For many people, totality is all about duration, duration, duration. Now, it’s absolutely true that the 2017 eclipse’s maximum offering of 2m40s was pretty impressive. But for many people, the smaller relative size of the Moon meant that the sky didn’t get quite as dark as they’d expected. With the whopping 4m+ of totality that will be seen in 2024, you can be sure that the experience will be much different. The sky will get darker, and there will be more time for watching, absorbing, celebrating, doing whatever experiments or performing whatever photographic sequences you might have planned. Oh, and you’ll have more time to share the experience with all your eclipse friends, both old and new! There’s just more time for everything! (But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to practice everything first!)

But duration isn’t everything…

Having said all this, it’s important for us to emphasize that duration isn’t everything when it comes to total eclipses. For example, the author has traveled to Kenya [in November 2013] to see a totality that lasted only 11 sec(!) – and that eclipse was stunning, one of the best experiences imaginable! Many people position themselves on the edge of the path, sacrificing some amount of duration for the extended edge effects that they feel are the highlight of totality. (Maybe you will want to do that as well, if 2024 isn’t your first total eclipse.) Every eclipse is different, and everyone is different. Everyone’s priorities are different, everyone’s goals and plans are different, and everyone’s experience will be different as well. Different doesn’t mean “better” or “worse” – it just means “different”, and that’s part of the mystique of eclipses – and why it’s so much fun to share our eclipse war stories with each other after the fact! The 2017 eclipse was wonderful, to be sure. The 2020 eclipse in South America and the 2021 eclipse near Antarctica will be wonderful as well – and you couldn’t get much more different experiences that those! This is why we say that the only thing better than having seen a total eclipse is…seeing TWO total eclipses – or even three, or more! And it’s why we can’t wait for 2024! (And it’s why that after it’s over, we’ll all be saying “When’s the NEXT one?” We think you’ll be saying that, too!)

But the eclipse is REALLY special because…

And that brings us to what is likely the single most important reason why the 2024 eclipse is special: Simply because… it’s a total eclipse! Isn’t that enough reason in the first place?

We hope you agree, and we’ll look forward to seeing you… IN THE PATH… on eclipse day!