2024 Total Solar Eclipse Details

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Eclipse Map 2024 Nocity 1920.png
Many of you recall the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 that passed directly over Nashville and provided the Memphis area with a view of 93% obscuration of the sun. In fact, some of you might still have your eclipse glasses from that event, hanging on to them in anticipation of the next total eclipse 7 years later! Well, that time is drawing closer, as we’re under a month from the 2024 Total Eclipse!

We’ve assembled some resources and put them here to guide you through observing the 2024 eclipse safely and enjoyably! Like its 2017 counterpart, the “total” portion of the 2024 eclipse will just miss Memphis once again, but we’ll still be close enough to it to see 97% of the sun blacked out during the early afternoon hours. A short drive to the north or west an hour or two will put you squarely in the path of totality… and it will be worth it!

Memphis-area viewing details

If you are staying local, here are the stats you need to know about this year’s eclipse.
Beginning of the partial eclipse: 12:37pm
Maximum obscuration / time: 97.4% at 1:57pm
End of the partial eclipse: 3:17pm
Weather forecast: Too early – check back around April 1!

Here is a simulation of how the eclipse will look from Memphis:

  

Regional viewing opportunities

If you are looking to take a road trip, here are some regional locations that will experience a total eclipse. Totality occurs around 2:00pm (plus or minus 15 minutes) at all locations:
Jonesboro, AR: 1 hour drive; 2 min 23 sec totality
Little Rock, AR: 2 hour drive; 2 min 27 sec totality
Conway, AR: 2 hour and 20 minute drive; 3 min 52 sec totality
Hot Springs, AR: 2 hour and 45 minute drive; 3 min 36 sec totality (1 of 2 national parks to experience totality)
Cape Girardeau, MO: 2 and a half hour drive; 4 min 5 sec totality
Cairo, IL: 2 and a half hour drive; 3 min 7 sec totality

Viewing tips

The most important advice for viewing of an eclipse is to NEVER look directly at the sun without specialized glasses or a specially designed lens for solar viewing. Looking directly at the sun for any length of time can cause permanent eye damage. There is only one short period of time when it is safe to remove the glasses for viewing, and that is during the period of totality – the couple minutes when the sun is completely obscured by the moon’s shadow. You will know the eclipse is total because you will not be able to see ANY portion of the sun through eclipse glasses. And as soon as a sliver of the sun re-appears, it is time to put the glasses back on. 

Always use glasses or solar viewers that comply with the ISO 12312-2 international standard, which are thousands of times darker than standard sunglasses. Be sure to closely monitor children for proper use of glasses as well. In addition, do not use eclipse glasses or viewers with cameras, binoculars, or telescopes, which require different types of solar filters. And of course, do not use those devices without any supplemental eye protection either! Here is a good source for more information.
Fun fact! Did you know that the largest manufacturer of 3D and eclipse glasses in the world is based in Bartlett, TN? Tens of millions of pairs of eclipse glasses, in a wide variety of designs, are created and manufactured at American Paper Optics. There is a good chance that your eclipse glasses were made right here in the Memphis metro! You can even buy directly from them here (this is not an affiliate link; we make nothing on purchases made).

Driving tips

Pack your patience and fill your gas tank! Thousands of sightseers will be flocking to the path of totality, likely clogging road networks in and out of the path. This is especially true on the morning of the eclipse (Monday, April 8) and especially right after totality is complete, as everyone returns home. 
My suggestion? Make a long weekend out of it! (But book your accommodations now. Many hotels in the path are already full.) Travel to (or near) the spot where you want to be on Saturday or Sunday, and delay returning home until Monday night or, even better, Tuesday morning. This is a rare event and the difference between totality and “almost” is literally like night and day, so many people will be taking advantage of a short drive to be in a spot where full obscuration occurs. Expect drive times to be MUCH longer than typical for Monday travelers, even on interstates.

The All-Important Weather Forecast!

While we can’t provide an actual forecast this far in advance, the scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) have created an interactive map that uses historical weather data to determine the “viewability” for spots across the United States. For Memphis, the following are the historical sky conditions for April 8th at 2pm:
Clear/Mostly Clear – 31.9%
Partly Cloudy – 14.2%
Mostly Cloudy/Overcast – 53.9%
So it looks like there s a slightly less than 50% chance that conditions will allow for decent viewing. It doesn’t take a perfectly clear sky to get a good view of the eclipse – just not a poorly-placed cloud! And as noted above, the eclipse covers a 2 hour and 40 minute time period, so hopefully we’ll get to observe at least part of it, and maybe we’ll get a perfectly sunny day! (For those traveling west to view totality, the historical chance of mostly cloudy to cloudy skies is very similar to Memphis.) 

When is the next total solar eclipse?

You’ll have to go to Alaska to see the next total eclipse in the U.S., and that is in 2033. After that, the next one will be in 2044, but again, you’ll have to head north – to North Dakota or Montana! The next total eclipse visible to a large population will be August 2045 (21 years from now!) as the path of totality crosses the southern U.S. from Florida to California. So don’t miss this one!

Additional Resources

Great American Eclipse – comprehensive resource
Eclipse2024.org – another excellent website

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

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