1 year away from the next U.S. total solar eclipse
Alabama won’t experience totality, but you don’t have to go too far to see it
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Start making those plans for April 8, 2024! An astronomical event you won’t to miss will occur in the daytime sky of several states from Texas all the up to Maine.
It’s the next total solar eclipse to visit North America. And it includes a large swath of the United States!
This one will be even better than the one that occurred back on August 21, 2017 because it will be noticeably longer. Some parts in the path of the eclipse will witness totality last nearly two times as long as what was seen six years ago.
States from the Mexican border northeastward to the Canadian border fall within the path of totality. That includes parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Vermont.
Notice Alabama is not included in that list of states. That’s just fine though because you don’t have to go too far to get to a state where totality will occur!
For us in Central and South Alabama the nearest viewing locations include the following larger cities:
- Arkansas: Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Little Rock, Texarkana
- Illinois: Carbondale, Mt. Vernon
- Indiana: Bloomington, Columbus, Evansville, Indianapolis, Muncie, Richmond, Terre Haute
- Kentucky: Henderson, Paducah
- Missouri: Cape Girardeau, New Madrid, Poplar Bluff
- Texas: Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Tyler, Waco
For Montgomery, the shortest drives to get into the path of totality include Jonesboro and Little Rock in Arkansas, Paducah in Kentucky, Evansville in Indiana, Carbondale in Illinois, and Cape Girardeau and Poplar Bluff in Missouri.
Each of those cities are 7 and a half hours away or less from downtown Montgomery. They are all big enough to have plenty of lodging, restaurants and shopping options as well.
Hotels are already filling up within the path of totality. In addition, multiple towns and cities have already begun discussing plans and events for the total solar eclipse.
If you are in the path of the eclipse, the event will last about two and a half hours. The “main event” part of the eclipse is much, much shorter -- lasting roughly two to four minutes depending on your location. The closer you are to the exact center of the eclipse’s path, the longer you will experience totality.
This part of the eclipse occurs when things turn completely dark during the middle of the day as the moon moves directly between the sun and Earth.
Totality will begin between 1:30 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. CDT in Texas, between 1:45 p.m. and 1:55 p.m. CDT in Arkansas, between 1:55 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. CDT in Missouri, and around 2:00 p.m. CDT in Kentucky and Illinois.
This can’t-miss event will blow your mind if you witness it in person. I can assure you of that! It’s something you won’t get many opportunities to witness. Believe it or not, the next total solar eclipse to occur in the Continental U.S. will be in August of 2044.
That one will only be visible in parts of Montana and North Dakota -- a much farther drive than the one next year. After 2044, the next opportunities for total solar eclipse viewing in the Lower 48 will occur in 2045 and 2052. What’s great about those two years is that part of Alabama will be in the path of totality!
So I recommend keeping both of those years in the back of your mind if traveling several hours away for next year’s eclipse isn’t something you are able to do.
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