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A total solar eclipse is one year away

For all astronomy enthusiasts, another rare celestial event is coming our way. One year from this Saturday, a total solar eclipse is set to occur.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will be visible across North America, making it the first total solar eclipse since August 2017. 

David Dickson is the public relations manager at the South Carolina State Museum and also a meteorologist.  

"All eyes are on now on 2024," he said. "It’s being called the ‘Great American Solar Eclipse Part Two.’"

The path of totality will stretch across 12 states, including parts of Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Vermont, and Maine. Dickson said that since the totality path does not stretch across the Midlands this time, instead, we’ll see a partial solar eclipse. 

Credit: NASA

“For us here in the Midlands, around 75% of the Sun will be covered," he said. "It’s pretty astounding, but not as astounding as we saw all those years back.”

Safety will still be crucial when viewing next year’s eclipse, as looking directly at the sun can damage your eyesight. 

“The question is … can you use those same eclipse glasses that you used back in 2017," Dickson said. "NASA says it is perfectly OK if they’re not damaged. Others say it’s best to get a new one after three years or so. So, we say just buy some new ones anyways."

Meteorologists and other researchers can gain valuable information from a solar eclipse. For example, the cooling of the atmosphere during a solar eclipse can cause a temperature drop of several degrees, allowing researchers to study how the atmosphere responds to sudden changes in energy input. 

Mark your calendars for April 8, 2024! And of course, you can always head to the state museum observatory to learn more about astronomy.

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