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A total solar eclipse will be visible to millions of Americans in April. Here's how to view it

Hannah Fry, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Lifestyles

Paul Maley has spent much of his life chasing solar eclipses.

He has witnessed 83 solar eclipses from 1960 to 2023. On April 8, he plans to see the 84th aboard a cruise ship in Mexico, located right in the path of totality — the swath where the moon fully blocks the sun.

"It's more eclipses than anyone living or dead," he said, proudly.

But millions of Americans will also get a chance to see the next eclipse. The heavenly display will be visible — weather permitting — in North America to about 31.5 million people living in the path of totality, including a long stretch through the U.S. The rest of the continental United States, as well as parts of Alaska and Hawaii, will be able to see a partial solar eclipse.

Maley's pursuit of the phenomenon has taken him across the world — from the icy land of Antarctica to the Cocos Islands off the western coast of Australia. Some of the experiences have been unnerving, like a trip to Turkey in 1999 during a period of unrest when military police filled the streets, Maley said.

Others have been blissfully simple. A trip to watch a partial eclipse — which doesn't attract nearly the same fanfare as a total eclipse (more on that later) — in South Korea with his wife ended with a celebration for two at a Dunkin Donuts.

 

Maley, 76, says these journeys are somewhat of an obsession for him. But they also provide an escape and are an easy way to put one's place in the universe in perspective, he said.

"No matter how many things in this world are screwed up, whether it's political or military or economic, nobody can change what's going on in the sky when it comes to an eclipse of the sun," he said. "It's going to happen. There's nothing you can do about it, so you might as well go there and enjoy it and free yourself from all the problems that you're facing."

What happens during a total solar eclipse?

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the sun from view and casting a shadow onto the Earth. For people viewing the eclipse from locations where the moon's shadow completely blocks the sun, known as the path of totality, the sky will become dark.

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