Maybe you didn't hear about the August 21 solar eclipse in time to prepare. Maybe you were stuck inside the entire day. Maybe you just did’t care at the time—I won’t judge. The reality is there have been solar eclipses throughout history and there are more to come.
In a perfect world, where everything aligns (literally) we would get solar eclipses pretty frequently: it would happen during the new moon, when the sun, moon and Earth line up. In the real world, however, the moon’s orbit around the Earth is tilted just a bit in relation to that line. So these celestial shows only happen every few years. And when eclipses do occur, they are not always visible on land.
So, if you missed the August 21, 2017 solar show, here are some dates to mark on your calendar.
April 8, 2024—Folks are already calling this the Great North American Eclipse. The moon’s shadow will come up to the states from Mexico via Texas, go along the Ohio River, and exit near Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
After that, eclipse enthusiasts will have to wait until the middle of the century.
An eclipse in 2044 will barely graze Montana.
But on August 12, 2045, the path of totality will follow a cross-country trek similar to 2017's eclipse, but it will dip farther and longer into the southern U.S.
The southeast will see snippets of eclipses in 2052 and 2078. The northeast will also be grazed in 2079.
And if you miss all of those, astronomers say the last, best chance to see an eclipse in this century will happen on September 14, 2099. The moon’s shadow will enter through North Dakota, travel south along the Great Lakes and exit through the Mid-Atlantic states.
Start stocking up on your eclipse glasses now!
Frank Graff is a producer/reporter with UNC-TV, focusing on Sci Tech Now North Carolina, a weekly science series that airs Tuesdays on UNC-TV. In addition to producing these special segments, Frank will provide additional information related to his stories through this North Carolina Science Now Reporter's Blog!