RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — While this Saturday’s eclipse is on the minds of many stargazers and astronomy admirers, there is a pretty big caveat with it: It’s an annular eclipse.
That means that the entire sun won’t be covered up by the moon’s shadow in orbit, begging the question, when is the next total solar eclipse?
The answer: It isn’t very far away!
April 8, 2024, is the date of the next total solar eclipse in the continental U.S., meaning we are now less than six months away from totality. The path of totality takes it from San Antonio through Dallas, into central Arkansas, then up into the Midwest; a good chunk of Indiana and Ohio will experience the awe-inspiring event. It will then pass through upstate New York and northern New England before crossing into Nova Scotia.
In the Triangle, we’ll see about 78% of the sun covered by the moon. The good news is you don’t have to drive across the country to catch totality. The closest place to go by car is Ohio. It’s about a seven-hour drive to Columbus, then you have to go another half hour to an hour northwest of the state’s capital to catch totality. The phenomenon lasts roughly three or four minutes before the sun starts coming back out.
The reason this weekend’s eclipse is not a total eclipse is because of where the Moon is in its orbit. This time around, the Moon is near its farthest point from the Earth in orbit, meaning that it looks smaller than the sun since there’s a smaller shadow cast to Earth. Annular means “ring” and that is the main reason an annular eclipse is also considered a Ring of Fire eclipse.
The next time the Triangle and much of Central North Carolina will be in totality is just a few years down the line, May 11, 2078. Grab those eclipse glasses in advance!