Total solar eclipse on April 8: Why this eclipse will be much different than the 2017 version

April 2024 will bring something exciting for skywatchers – a total solar eclipse.

On Monday, April 8, a total solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada. The eclipse will begin over the South Pacific Ocean. Weather permitting, the first location in continental North America that will experience totality is Mexico’s Pacific coast at around 11:07 a.m. PDT.

According to the Washington Post, the upcoming total solar eclipse coincides with a period when the sun will be particularly active. The active sun will look very spiky, like a “very irritated little hedgehog,” solar physicist Scott McIntosh told the newspaper.

READ MORE: How to safely watch an eclipse

Scientists say the sun is approaching its maximum activity of its cycle this year, meaning it will be sending off more solar flares and eruptions from its surface — potentially making this year’s total solar eclipse much more dynamic.

The 2024 eclipse will bring back memories of the 2017 eclipse when an estimated 88% of U.S. adults viewed the moon passing in front of the sun either directly or online. This year’s version could be even more exciting due “to differences in the path, timing, and scientific research,” NASA said.

Here’s NASA’s explanation:

The path of totality – where viewers can see the Moon totally block the Sun, revealing the star’s outer atmosphere, called the corona – is much wider during the upcoming total solar eclipse than it was during the eclipse in 2017. As the Moon orbits Earth, its distance from our planet varies. During the 2017 total solar eclipse, the Moon was a little bit farther away from Earth than it will be during upcoming total solar eclipse, causing the path of that eclipse to be a little skinnier. In 2017, the path ranged from about 62 to 71 miles wide. During the April eclipse, the path over North America will range between 108 and 122 miles wide – meaning at any given moment, this eclipse covers more ground.”

The 2024 eclipse path will also pass over more cities and densely populated areas. An estimated 31.6 million people live in the path of totality this year, compared to 12 million in 2017. An additional 150 million people live within 200 miles of the path of totality.

Solar eclipse 2024 path map

The dark gray line on this map from AccuWeather shows the path of the moon’s shadow during the total solar eclipse coming on April 8, 2024.AccuWeather

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