2024 Solar Eclipse: The 13 Best Cities to See the Phenomenon

Photo: Sky Noir Photography by Bill Dickinson/Getty Images

The 2024 solar eclipse, which will happen on April 8, will see parts of Mexico, the United States, and Canada in brief moments of dawn- or dusk-like darkness right in the middle of the day. Known as a total solar eclipse, the natural phenomenon occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth and blocks the entirety of sun’s face. According to NASA, there won’t be another total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States until 2044, making it all the more important to catch this one. Here, AD covers everything you need to know about the upcoming event, including the 13 best cities to experience the eclipse.

What is a total solar eclipse?

There are a number of different types of eclipses, which offer different views of either the sun or moon. As NASA explains it, “A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth that either fully or partially blocks the sun’s light in some areas.” A total solar eclipse means the moon will completely block the sun’s face, and if you’re in the path of the eclipse, you’ll be able to see the sun’s corona and outer atmosphere, weather permitting. Other types of eclipses, like a partial solar eclipse, occur when the moon covers only some of the sun, resulting in a crescent shape.

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon blocks the entire face of the sun.

The Diamond Ring and the End of Totality.

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon blocks the entire face of the sun.
Photo: John Finney/Getty Images

How do you safely watch a total solar eclipse?

Not only are solar eclipses special because of their relative rarity, they’re unique in how they’re watched. For the few minutes when the moon is fully blocking the sun—know as totality—viewers can look directly at the sun without any eye protection. Any other time, including the hours before and after totality when you’ll see a partial eclipse, it’s important to wear protective eye gear, such as solar eclipse glasses. “As soon as you see even a little bit of the bright sun reappear after totality, immediately put your eclipse glasses back on or use a handheld solar viewer to look at the sun,” NASA explains.

How often do total solar eclipses happen?

Solar eclipses, of one kind or another, happen between two and five times a year. Total eclipses happen about once every 18 months. However, this doesn’t mean one will be visible from your home this often. According to the Natural History Museum, London, a total solar eclipse is viewable from any one place about once every 400 years. For example, the last total solar eclipse visible from the United States happened in 2017 and followed a track from Oregon towards South Carolina. This year, the solar eclipse’s path will start in Texas and move northeast towards Maine. The next total solar eclipse will happen in 2026 and will be visible from the Arctic, Greenland, Iceland, and northern Spain.

How long do total solar eclipses last?

Total solar eclipses can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. The difference in totality length has to do with how far apart the sun, moon, and Earth are at any given time, since the latter two bodies both orbit in elliptical paths.

When the Earth is furthest from the sun—making the star appear smaller—and the moon is closest to the Earth—which makes the moon look big—totality can last for over seven minutes. As Astronomy Mag reports, these circumstances will line up in about 160 years, when a solar eclipse on July 16, 2186, will see almost seven-and-a-half minutes of totality. On the other extreme, if the Earth is at its closest point to the sun and the moon is at its furthest point from Earth, humans won’t see a total solar eclipse, even if all of the celestial bodies are in line. Since totality is all about the perspective of the viewer, this is also why each city will experience the 2024 eclipse differently.

This year, totality will last for a little over four minutes in some areas, which is significantly more than the two minutes that people experienced during the 2017 eclipse. As NASA notes, “During the 2017 total solar eclipse, the moon was a little bit farther away from Earth than it will be during the upcoming total solar eclipse, causing the path of that eclipse to be a little skinnier.” Seven years ago, the path of totality—which shows which parts of the world will be able to see the total solar eclipse—was only about 62 to 71 miles wide. This year, that path ranges from 108 to 122 miles wide. “Meaning at any given moment this eclipse covers more ground,” NASA explains.

How to read maps showing the solar eclipse path

As noted, this year’s path of totality is about 110 miles wide. Cities closer to the center of the path will sustain total darkness longer than those on the edges. In addition to longer totality than in 2017, this year’s path of totality covers more densely populated areas than the previous one. This means more people should be able to experience the total solar eclipse.

The 2024 solar eclipse map from NASA shows where totality will occur on April 8.
The 2024 solar eclipse map from NASA shows where totality will occur on April 8.
Photo: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Any part of the country that is not within the path may see a partial eclipse, and the closer a location is to the strip, the smaller the crescent of visible sun will be. In these locations, it won’t be safe to look directly at the eclipse without protective glasses or a viewing device. NASA has put together an interactive map, which allows viewers to see the eclipse timing in their city.

Where are the best places to see the 2024 total solar eclipse?

According to NASA, cities in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and small parts of Tennessee and Michigan will experience the total solar eclipse. Parts of Mexico and Canada will also fall within the eclipse’s path. Read on for the best places to see the 2024 total solar eclipse.

Mazatlán, Mexico

Resorts and businesses along the Pacific coast in Mazatlán.

Hotels along Playa Olas Altas and Old Mazatlan, Mexico

Resorts and businesses along the Pacific coast in Mazatlán.
Photo: Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

Mexico’s pacific coast will be the first place in continental North America to experience the eclipse. Mazatlán, a popular resort city, is an ideal location to see the occurrence, as it is directly in the eclipse’s path. Totality will begin around 11:07 a.m. local time and last for four minutes and 17 seconds. Because it’s such an optimal place to see the 2024 solar eclipse, NASA is hosting a viewing event at Vidanta Mazatlán. Here, visitors will be able to watch screens showing telescope views of the eclipse in addition to other hands-on activities, such as projects for kids and touchable moon rocks.

Torreón, Mexico

Torreón is one of a number of Mexican cities that will experience totality during the 2024 solar eclipse.

Coronavirus Outbreak in Mexico

Torreón is one of a number of Mexican cities that will experience totality during the 2024 solar eclipse.
Photo: Armando Marin/Jam Media/Getty Images

Located more centrally in the country, the solar eclipse will also be visible from Torreón. Totality will start just before 12:19 p.m. local time and last for four minutes and 12 seconds. A partial eclipse will also be visible before and after totality, starting at 11:44 a.m. and ending at 1:54 p.m.

Kerrville, Texas

Kerville is located within Texas Hill Country, seen here.

Sunrise coming over mountains behind a field of tall grass

Kerville is located within Texas Hill Country, seen here.
Photo: Jessica Lutz/Getty Images

Part of Texas Hill Country, Kerrville is a prime location to watch the 2024 eclipse. Near the Mexican border, it will be among the first US cities to experience totality, which will begin at 1:32 p.m. and last for almost four and a half minutes. Austin and Dallas are also in the path of totality, but will only experience the darkness for about two minutes and a little under four minutes, respectively. NASA is also hosting an event here, which will take place in Louise Hays Park and include live music, speakers, and programming for kids.

Russellville, Arkansas

Russellville, Arkansas, will experience four minutes and 12 seconds of totality.

A Farm in Russellville, Arkansas

Russellville, Arkansas, will experience four minutes and 12 seconds of totality.
Photo: Michael Dean Shelton/Getty Images

Russellville, about 85 miles east of Little Rock, will experience four minutes and 12 seconds of totality, starting at 1:50 p.m. The city has planned a number of exciting programming for the historic event, including a solar eclipse festival and a concert with Grammy-winner Rhonda Vincent.

Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Cape Girardeau is located near the Mississippi River.

Main Street Looking Cape Girardeau Looking North

Cape Girardeau is located near the Mississippi River.
Photo: Larry Braun/Getty Images

Located along the Mississippi River, Cape Girardeau is one of the best places in Missouri to watch the 2024 solar eclipse. According to NASA’s map, totality will last for a little over four minutes, beginning at 1:58 p.m. Head to Old Town Cape, where the city is hosting a block party on the day.

Carbondale, Illinois

Spectators watch the 2017 solar eclipse in Saluki Stadium at Southern Illinois University.

Solar Eclipse Visible Across Swath Of U.S.

Spectators watch the 2017 solar eclipse in Saluki Stadium at Southern Illinois University.
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Informally known as Little Egypt—possibly because the area delivered grains to northern parts of the state during the 1800s famine or because the southern tip of Illinois is similar to the Nile delta region in Egypt—Carbondale will experience four minutes and 10 seconds of totality, beginning at 1:59 p.m. The city also experienced totality during the 2017 eclipse, though it will see a longer dark period this time around. Home of Southern Illinois University, the school is hosting public viewing at its football stadium.

Bloomington, Indiana

Bloomington, Indiana, is home to Indiana University.

Exterior aerial of beautiful Bloomington Indiana Courthouse on Square

Bloomington, Indiana, is home to Indiana University.
Photo: Nicholas Klein/Getty Images

Much of central and southern Indiana will experience totality during the 2024 solar eclipse, but Bloomington, largely a college town and home to Indiana University, will be among the best places in the Hoosier state to watch the event, since totality will last for about four minutes. The town is home to Indiana University, which is among our list of the most beautiful college campuses in America. Spend the afternoon strolling through the campus’s Gothic- and Romanesque-inspired buildings, and then catch the eclipse at 3 p.m. Indianapolis, the state’s capital, is another good city to watch the eclipse, but totality will last for less time, about three minutes and 47 seconds.

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, seen here, will experience almost four minutes of totality.

Cleveland - southside

Cleveland, seen here, will experience almost four minutes of totality.
Photo: Mike Kline/Getty Images

Cleveland won’t be in a solar eclipse’s path of totality again until 2444, making it a once in a lifetime experience for any locals hoping to watch the eclipse from their hometown. The city will experience maximum darkness at 3:15 p.m, which will last for just under four minutes. To commemorate the moment, the Great Lake Science Center is hosting a Total Eclipse Fest on April 6 through April 8. The free outdoor event will include speakers, concerts, performances, and hands-on science activities.

Erie, Pennsylvania

Small parts of Northern Pennsylvania, such as Erie, will see the total solar eclipse.

Erie Pennsylvania Downtown City Skyline

Small parts of Northern Pennsylvania, such as Erie, will see the total solar eclipse.
Photo: Douglas Sacha/Getty Images

Only a small portion of northern Pennsylvania will be within the path of totality. Erie, located along the shores of the lake of the same name, will be one of the best places in the state to see the eclipse. Totality will last for three minutes and 42 seconds, starting at 3:16 p.m. The local government has put together a map of public parks and other viewing locations to watch the spectacle.

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo, New York, is one of the best places in the Empire State to see the solar eclipse.

USA, New York, Exterior

Buffalo, New York, is one of the best places in the Empire State to see the solar eclipse.
Photo: Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

Buffalo, New York, will see three minutes and 46 seconds of total darkness, beginning at 3:18 p.m. There are a number of public “watch parties” happening in the city, which the government has compiled for visitors and locals. Midcentury-modern architecture fans may want to use the day to visit Graycliff, a Frank Lloyd Wright–designed estate, which is hosting a special open house on April 8, allowing guests to watch the eclipse from the property.

Niagara Region, Ontario

The Niagara Region in Ontario, Canada.

The Destination Of Niagara Falls From Canadian Site, Ontario, Canada

The Niagara Region in Ontario, Canada.
Photo: Ludmila Ružicková/Getty Images

Small parts of Canada will also witness total darkness during the 2024 eclipse. The Niagara region is the best place to see totality, which will start at 3:19 p.m. and last for three minutes and 15 seconds. Montreal will also experience totality, but only for a little over one minute.

Burlington, Vermont

Only small parts of New England, including Burlington, will be able to see the total solar eclipse.

Waterfront, Burlington, VT

Only small parts of New England, including Burlington, will be able to see the total solar eclipse.
Photo: Barry Winiker/Getty Images

Much of New England will miss out on totality during the 2024 eclipse, as the path will only cover parts of northern Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Burlington is among the best places for those in the region to travel to, as it will experience three minutes and 19 seconds of darkness, starting at 3:26 p.m.

Houlton, Maine

Maine is the northernmost state in the US that will experience totality.

Houlton, Maine

Maine is the northernmost state in the US that will experience totality.
Photo: Denis Tangney Jr/Getty Images

Maine is the northern most place in the United States to see the total eclipse in 2024, also making it the last place in the country to experience totality. Houlton will be among the best places in the state to watch the sight, and darkness will begin at 3:32 p.m. and last for three minutes and 20 seconds.

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest


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