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May 29, 2024

Rare ‘Great American Eclipse’ Coming in 2024 Alongside Dazzling Meteor Showers

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Dec 29, 2023

The year 2024 has an exciting lineup of celestial events for skywatchers, headlined by a rare total solar eclipse that will cast a 100-mile-wide shadow over parts of the United States. Dubbed the “Great American Eclipse,” it will be the first total solar eclipse visible from North America since 2017.

Total Solar Eclipse to Trace Path Across U.S. in April 2024

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will trace a path across Mexico, the central U.S., and eastern Canada over the course of 90 minutes. Along this narrow path, the moon will completely block the sun for over 4 minutes, plunging viewing areas into temporary darkness and offering a glimpse of the sun’s atmosphere.

Outside the path, a partial eclipse will be visible across most of North and Central America.

This will be the first total solar eclipse visible from any part of the mainland United States since August 2017. Dubbed the “Great American Eclipse,” the 2024 eclipse is expected to draw massive crowds hoping to experience totality.

Below is the projected path of totality for the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse:

Location Local Start Time Duration
Mazatlán, Mexico 12:53 PM 4m 28s
Dallas, Texas 2:23 PM 4m 20s
Indianapolis, Indiana 3:16 PM 2m 20s
Buffalo, New York 4:09 PM 2m 23s
Montreal, Canada 4:19 PM 3m 18s

Viewing a solar eclipse requires proper eye protection like certified eclipse glasses. Looking directly at the sun can cause permanent vision damage.

Rare ‘Great Comet’ May Grace Night Skies in 2024

In addition to April’s solar eclipse, 2024 may deliver another rare spectacle – an exceptionally bright comet visible to the naked eye.

Comet C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein) was discovered in archival data in 2021 and continues its long-period orbit toward the inner solar system. As it swings by the sun in 2031, the giant comet could rank among the brightest comets seen from Earth in the last 50 years if predictions hold.

There is a chance C/2014 UN271 could reach peak brightness in 2024 as it approaches, offering stunning nighttime views in the second half of the year. However, experts caution its brightness is difficult to predict given variability in comet behavior. If it does meet expectations, the comet would be visible to the naked eye and reveal an extensive tail spanning tens of degrees.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen, which thrilled skywatchers worldwide in late 2018, is also expected to make a return performance in August 2024. It likely won’t reach the same peak brightness but could still offer beautiful sights through binoculars or telescopes.

Eta Aquariid, Perseid Meteor Showers to Dazzle in 2024

In between solar eclipses and potential comet visits, there are always spectacular meteor showers to enjoy like the Quadrantids that peaked in early January 2024. Two of the most prolific annual displays will take place in the spring and summer months.

The Eta Aquariid meteor shower, sourced from Halley’s Comet, runs annually from mid-April to late May with a sharp peak on May 6, 2024. Under ideal dark sky conditions, observers could witness up to 60 meteors per hour with medium speeds and long-lasting trails. These “shooting stars” will radiate from the constellation Aquarius but can appear anywhere in the sky.

The famous Perseid meteor shower then reaches its maximum on the night of August 12-13, 2024. This beloved meteor display could generate upwards of 100 meteors per hour at its peak with extremely fast and bright fireballs. The Perseids offer pleasant late-summer viewing with mild weather across the Northern Hemisphere.

Pair of Supermoons, Partial Lunar Eclipse Also Set for 2024

In addition to solar eclipses and potential comets, lunar enthusiasts can enjoy two supermoons in 2024 when the full moon coincides with the closest point in its orbit around Earth.

On May 6, the same night as the Eta Aquariid meteor shower peak, the full “Flower” Moon will take on a large and luminous appearance. Another supermoon follows on September 3 with the full “Harvest” Moon.

The year also brings a partial lunar eclipse on October 28 over western North America and the Pacific Ocean. On that night, 84% of the full “Hunter’s” Moon will take on a reddish hue for over an hour.

While not as flashy as a solar eclipse, these lunar events add extra intrigue for skygazers throughout the year when their schedules allow.

Conclusion: Favorable Year for Astronomy Enthusiasts

With rare and captivating solar eclipses, potential comet cameos, active meteor showers, and supermoons, 2024 is set to be a banner year for astronomy enthusiasts. Mark the major celestial events on your calendar and take advantage if the forecasts develop according to predictions. Some of these unique sights won’t occur again for over a decade.

Be sure to check for local astronomy club events to safely view eclipses in particular. Their expertise and equipment can greatly enhance naked-eye experiences. As always, temper expectations for extreme meteor shower rates, comet brightness, eclipse totality times, etc. But when the skies align in 2024, it will be a cosmic delight worth savoring.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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