What to know about the total solar eclipse that crosses North America in April?

After a total solar eclipse in North America, Europe will see the next solar eclipse in August 2026, when it crosses the northern reaches of Greenland, Iceland and Spain.

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A total solar eclipse will darken skies over Mexico, the United States and Canada on April 8.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon positions itself completely between the Earth and the Sun, temporarily blocking sunlight.

The closer the moon and the farther away the sun, the longer it can be.

On April 7, the moon will make its closest approach of the month to Earth, so it will appear slightly larger in the sky, with a total solar eclipse lasting up to 4 minutes and 28 seconds in some areas.

„It's really interesting that nowhere else in our solar system, there's a moon that's the right size to block the exact surface of the sun. And it's so unique, you know, Earth is special,” said Kelly Korek. NASA's program manager for the 2023 and 2024 solar eclipses.

Experts say that total solar eclipses occur more often in midlands like the South Pacific or Antarctica.

But according to NASA's Korrek, totality usually takes 400 years to 1,000 years to return to the same spot.

Europe will see the next total solar eclipse in August 2026, when it crosses the northern edges of Greenland, Iceland and Spain.

A total eclipse will be visible again in Spain a year later in August 2027.

A total eclipse will occur in Europe after 2027 until 2061.

What happens during a total solar eclipse?

Minutes before totality, observers can see shadow bands — elusive wavy lines that can be seen moving across solid surfaces. They are usually faint and difficult to photograph.

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„So a few minutes before totality, when the sun is really skinny, there's a diffracted form of sunlight on the ground, but it's passing you at a thousand miles an hour. [1600 kph]. So you see the light on the ground as little ripples,” said Patricia Reif, a professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University.

Because the Sun is completely covered, only its corona is visible, along with a lone bright spot at the edge of the Moon called the „diamond ring.”

During totality, eclipse watchers can look across the horizon in all directions and see what looks like a 360-degree sunset effect.

„You'll see this reddish glow because those areas aren't whole,” Reif said.

„They get a little more sunlight, so we see scattered light from their sunlight”.

In general, planets are visible in dark skies, and some may be too faint to see without binoculars.

In April in North America, Jupiter and Friday should be visible on either side of the Sun, along with Mars and Saturn, Reif says.

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Ahead of the awe-inspiring event, experts are urging viewers to wear special glasses to protect their vision during the eclipse.

„We're making sure people understand that viewing a partial eclipse can damage your eyes, so you always use indirect viewing or solar viewing glasses,” Gorek said.

When the sun is completely hidden, it is better to remove the glasses and look with the eyes. But before and after, certified eclipse glasses are essential to avoid eye damage.

Cameras, binoculars and telescopes should be equipped with special solar filters for safe viewing, experts said.

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