One of the wonders of our natural world is the way our planet interacts with the other bodies in our solar system. This has been the case for millions of years, and has spawned many theories and resulted in many discoveries over the centuries.
A total solar eclipse is a fascinating result of our Moon aligning in such a way to block the Sun from shining its ever present light onto Earth, and thus creating a phenomenon that can result in a 360 degree sunset. Sounds intriguing? Find out all you need to know to witness this yourself on April 8, 2024 during the total solar eclipse.
Briefly About Solar Eclipses
There are a few different types of solar eclipses, generally categorized into three separate events. The most common of these events are called a partial solar eclipse, which happens whenever the Moon blocks out part of the Sun. This event still allows some light to pass to Earth, and can be quite a sight to behold.
The next type is known as an annular solar eclipse. As the name suggests, the Moon blocks out the Sun in such a way, that it creates a ring-shaped obscuring. This is a rarer event than the partial solar eclipse, and is also referred to as a “ring of fire” for those in the know.
Lastly, the total solar eclipse, is as its name suggests, a complete covering of the Sun. This only happens when the Moon perfectly aligns with the Earth and the Sun, as it blocks out all the visible light rays coming from the Sun. When this happens, we experience what is known as totality, rare phenomenon.
About the 360 Degree Sunset
All three of the aforementioned solar eclipses produce some stunning vistas for us to experience in their own right. But when it comes to the 360 degree sunset, this only happens during totality, when the Sun is completely blocked by the Moon.
The reason behind this, is that once the solar eclipse enters the phase where it completely blocks out the Sun, the result is a shadow that coasts along the surface of the Earth. But the Sun still shines brightly in the sky, and while light might not directly hit Earth, it still hits the surrounding atmosphere, where it then becomes refracted and results in a 360 degree sunset-like experience.
However, this spectacular phenomenon only lasts for as long as there is totality. So while it might be tempting to look up at the completely blackened out sky, so it is recommended that you also lower your gaze and take in the illuminated horizon while this phase is active, as you might otherwise miss the opportunity.
No matter in which direction you look, you will be able to see a beautiful panoramic array of colors, where the dark blue sky changes into a warm orange as it gets lower to the horizon, resulting in a truly unique view that will be sure to stun anyone lucky enough to witness it.
And as if that was not enough to look out for, there is also another event known as “shadow bands”. These faint whisps of shadow almost resemble fog, and can be difficult to notice, unless you are actively looking for them. They are categorized as wavelike patterns, and undulate across the ground just before and after totality.
Due to the limited time where these phenomenon takes place, it is important to plan your excursion well in advance. Not only to get away from the bright lights of major cities and other light polluted areas, but also to find a vantage point that affords you with a great panoramic view of the horizon.
The Next Total Solar Eclipse in North America
By now we hope to have piqued your interest, and are thus delighted to inform you, that North Americans will get ample opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse, the 360 degree sunset, and possibly the shadow bands in 2024.
This is because the upcoming path of totality aligns itself in such a way, that it will cover a large portion of North America, starting from Mexico and stretching along Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, New York and Maine, Toronto and Montreal in a large band.
If you are planning to be anywhere near this path on April 8, 2024, you might be wondering how to ensure the best possible conditions for experiencing this first hand. For starters, it is important that you pick a spot where there is relatively low light pollution from nearby buildings or structures.
Next up, you would also do well in picking a spot outdoors where you have a panoramic view of the horizon, as this will make it easier to witness the 360 degree sunset in all its glory. If you pick a spot where large structures block part of the horizon, you will not get the full experience. If you are looking for an ideal spot, check out some of suggested locations!
Experience the Total Solar Eclipse in 2024 With Solar Eclipse Glasses
Once you have decided to experience the total solar eclipse of 2024 in person, you should consider investing in a decent pair of solar eclipse glasses. These are a type of sunglasses, which protects your eyes from the harmful radiation and infrared waves of the Sun.
When choosing a good set of solar eclipse glasses, the main thing to consider, is whether or not they have been certified for this type of use. By buying branded ones with reputable companies putting their name on the product, you will be more likely to get a quality product that will not end up harming you or your loved ones.
We recommend that you order solar eclipse glasses which have been approved by a credited organization such as the American Astronomical Society, and preferably also undergone an international certification through the ISO standardization program.
This way you will protect your eyes and be able to witness the glory of our solar system as it unfolds, without the worry of damaging your eyes in the process. After all, even during a total solar eclipse, the brief moments of totality when the Sun is completely obscured are the only times it is safe to view the event with the naked eye.