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Solar Eclipse 2024: Path, Details, and Planning Ideas

Solar Eclipse 2024: Path, Details, and Planning Ideas

Nature and the universe in general often treat us to special events that are awe-inspiring to witness. A solar eclipse is one of those events and the total solar eclipse of 2024 is just around the corner for those of us in North America.

For avid campers, this presents a unique opportunity to combine the joys of camping with the thrill of witnessing a celestial phenomenon.

In this post, we’ll explore how campers can make the most of the 2024 solar eclipse, given the 2024 eclipse path, and how to enhance your experience to make it as memorable as possible.

What Is a Solar Eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, casting the moon’s shadow onto the surface of the Earth. But not every solar eclipse is a total eclipse.

During a total solar eclipse, the sun is completely obscured by the moon. This produces a stunning display of darkness during the daytime.

A family watching a solar eclipse

During a solar eclipse, the sun covers the moon, darkening the sky during the daytime.

There’s a solar eclipse in 2023, but it’s an annular eclipse, which differs from a total eclipse. During an annular solar eclipse, the moon is near its furthest point from Earth. That makes it appear smaller, so it doesn’t fully cover the sun, leaving a thin outer ring visible, often called a “ring of fire.”

Similarly, a partial solar eclipse doesn’t completely block out the sun, as the sun and moon aren’t perfectly aligned with each other in relation to Earth.

The upcoming total solar eclipse in 2024 is a highly anticipated astronomical event that will cut a path across the North American continent.

When Is the 2024 Solar Eclipse?

The total solar eclipse of 2024 will take place on April 8, 2024. Times will vary depending on where you intend to view it from, and good views are weather-dependent. Overcast skies will block the view of an eclipse.

In the United States, the path of totality will enter Texas at approximately 1:30 PM CDT and will travel from southwest Texas in a northeasterly direction, ending in Maine at around 4:00 EDT.

Once it crosses through Maine, the 2024 solar eclipse will be visible in much of New Brunswick, Canada. Newfoundland will be the final location in North America affected by the total solar eclipse of 2024.

Where Is the Best Place to See the 2024 Eclipse?

In order to have the best chance of seeing all stages of the total solar eclipse, you’ll want to be somewhere along the path of totality.

What Is the Path of Totality?

The “path of totality” is the term used to describe the area along which the total eclipse can be viewed. It’s possible to view a partial eclipse from outside this path.

Here’s a look at the path of totality across the United States for the 2024 total solar eclipse using a map created by cartographer Michael Zeiler of GreatAmericanEclipse.com:

Map of path of totality of the 2024 total eclipse of the sun

This map shows the path of totality of the 2024 solar eclipse across North America. (Photo source: Great American Eclipse)

Locations along the path of totality on eclipse day in the United States are projected to include the following major cities:

San Antonio, Texas
Austin, Texas
Waco, Texas
Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex
Little Rock, Arkansas
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Carbondale, Illinois
Evansville, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Dayton, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Buffalo, New York
Rochester, New York
Syracuse, New York
Burlington, Vermont
Houlton, Maine

From there the path continues across New Brunswick, Canada, and across Newfoundland.

Choosing the Best Campsite for the 2024 Solar Eclipse

For the most memorable eclipse experience, RVers and campers will want to aim to be within the path of totality, where the moon will completely cover the sun for a brief period. There are plenty of national and state parks, as well as remote camping areas, that will offer great viewing spots.

The best states to camp in for optimal viewing of the eclipse on April 8, 2024, are:

  • Texas
  • Arkansas
  • Missouri
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Ohio
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • Maine

However, even though the path of totality will only cross these states as well as New Brunswick and Newfoundland, Canada, everyone in North America should be able to view at least a partial eclipse depending on the weather.

As we write this post, campgrounds and RV parks have already begun taking reservations for dates around the astronomical phenomenon, so if you’re interested in settling in at a commercial campground or RV park, be sure to make your reservations as soon as possible.

We also want to note that the Xscapers will be hosting a Solar Eclipse Convergence from April 6-14 in Paris, Texas, an area along the path of totality. Tickets for this event should be available in late 2023. (For more information on Xscapers, see our post on the Escapees RV Club.)

Xscapers Convergence map

This Xscapers Convergence map shows the Texas Convergence location for the total solar eclipse of 2024. (Photo source: Xscapers)

How to Protect Your Eyes During a Solar Eclipse

While witnessing a solar eclipse is a remarkable experience, eye safety is a primary concern and priority. When viewing a solar eclipse (even a partial eclipse), never look directly at the sun without proper eye protection. Doing so can cause permanent damage to your eyes.

Certified solar viewing glasses or a solar viewer meeting required safety standards are crucial for optimal eye safety. You can briefly remove your eclipse glasses during totality when the moon completely blocks the sun. At all other times, however, you absolutely need to keep the glasses on or the viewer in front of your eyes.

If you’re viewing a partial eclipse, keep your safety glasses on at ALL times.

Here are a few glasses and a viewer that will allow you to observe the eclipse safely without risking harm to your vision:

Soluna Solar Eclipse Glasses - CE and ISO Certified Safe Shades for Direct Sun Viewing - Made in the USA (5 Pack)
  • TRUSTED BY MILLIONS - Soluna Glasses are made in the USA by NASA-approved manufacturer American Paper Optics, and are recognized as ISO-compliant by...
  • CE AND ISO CERTIFIED FOR DIRECT SUN VIEWING - Our eclipse glasses have been independently tested and verified by ICS Laboratories under the most...
Solar Eclipse Glasses - CE and ISO Certified Safe Shades for Direct Sun Viewing - Made in the USA (10 Pack) by Soluna
  • TRUSTED BY MILLIONS - Soluna Glasses are made in the USA by NASA-approved manufacturer American Paper Optics, and are recognized as ISO-compliant by...
  • CE AND ISO CERTIFIED FOR DIRECT SUN VIEWING - Our eclipse glasses have been independently tested and verified by ICS Laboratories under the most...
Celestron – EclipSmart Safe Solar Eclipse Glasses Family 4-Pack – Meets ISO 12312-2:2015(E) Standards – Premium Solar Safe Filter Technology – Includes One Size Fits All Glasses + Eclipse Guidebook
  • ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL GLASSES: These paper eclipse glasses feature two different folding points to accommodate a variety of face shapes and sizes.
  • MULTI-PACK, PERFECT FOR FAMILIES AND SMALL GROUPS: Kit includes 4 eclipse glasses so everyone in your group can enjoy the view.
Rainbow Symphony Solar Eclipse Viewer, Replaces Eclipse Glasses, CE & ISO Certified, Safe for Direct Sun Viewing, Made in USA, 5 Pack
  • BEST SOLAR OBSERVATION: While protecting your eyes, Rainbow Symphony's eclipse viewer creates a sharper orange colored image to allow for safe viewing...
  • CE & ISO CERTIFIED: Our eclipse cards are CE and ISO certified and feature an optical density of five or greater to filter out 100% of harmful...

If you intend to photograph any part of the total solar eclipse using a telescope or binoculars, you must use a special-purpose solar filter to protect your eyes. Keep it securely attached in front of the optics while using any viewing or photography device.

If you only wear solar viewing glasses or use a solar viewer to look at the sun through a camera, telescope, or binoculars, the rays of the sun will damage your eyes because they’ll burn right through the filter of your viewer or glasses.

If you prefer, you can also make your own solar eclipse viewer, but be sure to follow directions very carefully to make sure you’re protecting your eyes adequately:

Preparing for Your Solar Eclipse Camping Experience

As with any camping trip, careful planning is key to a successful and fulfilling eclipse camping experience.

Campsite

Find or reserve your campsite as far in advance of the eclipse as possible as campsites are liable to fill up very quickly for such a rare and awesome event. Familiarize yourself with campground or RV park regulations in advance to know where you can situate yourself ahead of the event.

General Preparations

Be sure to pack food, drinks, blankets, chairs, and anything you need to be comfortable as you wait for and then watch the eclipse. Dressing in layers is always a good idea so that you’ll be prepared for any weather that may develop as you wait and watch. Be prepared.

If you’re driving to a particular location to view the eclipse, give yourself plenty of time to deal with potentially long lines, especially if you’ll be traveling and viewing in the path of totality. Plan on extra time to park, and then when the event is over, plan to exercise lots of patience moving through traffic.

Gear

If you’re bringing a telescope or binoculars equipped with solar filters, assemble these items before your trip. These are great tools to assist you in viewing and even capturing intricate details of the sun and its corona during the total eclipse, but be especially mindful of the eye protection notes in the previous section.

Again, if you intend to photograph the eclipse, remember to use a solar filter for your camera lens to avoid damaging your equipment or your eyes.

What to Expect

As totality draws near, you’re likely to experience a stunning period of darkness, with the sun’s corona appearing as a radiant halo around the moon. This is an amazing sight and an incredible opportunity for photographers.

Be sure to assist any children or elderly members of your viewing party to make sure all eyes are adequately protected.

As you plan to enjoy this exciting astronomical event, have a look at this video of NASA’s 2023 and 2024 Eclipse Path Maps:

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Rick Dowling

Monday 18th of September 2023

Good info guys, but if folks don’t have reservations yet they need to get busy or lucky. I was in Texas in March and only found one in Austin which is on the edge of the totality. Totality lasts over four minutes in Texas depending on your location so that matters. We ended up getting a better spot In Kerrville by getting on a wait list. But the sites aren’t cheap. Since the 2017 one a lot more folks are aware and don’t want to miss this one. OBTW, some folks think 99% totality is close enough, but for a total solar eclipse the difference between 100% and 99% is literally the difference between night and day. The 2017 one is the most spectacular thing I’ve seen. I hope all your readers get a chance to see it. Also for better viewing get high on a hill or on a lake where you can see the horizon. Finally, for your city list, guys, it’s Carbondale, Illinois, not Missouri, which also happens to be the point of intersection for totality between the 2017 and 2023 total eclipses. Lucky town!

Howard

Saturday 16th of September 2023

I live in Hot Springs, AR and was told by a local commercial campground that they started receiving request in March of this year and have been totaling booked since April for the eclipse. The area has a lot of campsites both commercial, National Park, and Corp of Engineers. My recommendation would to be booking now. If you can not find something on your own, I would drop a note to the following: hscvb@hotsprings.org Or call: 501-321-2277 This is the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. Hopefully they can help you out.

Mark

Saturday 16th of September 2023

Great article, but you’re a bit early with the article. This years annular eclipse hasn’t happened yet, October 14th… Oregon thru Texas. We’ll be in Oregon to watch the event.

TheRVgeeks

Saturday 16th of September 2023

Hi Mark! We’re early on this one because a total eclipse garners so much attention that early planning is more important than ever. And most people who will be traveling to view next month’s annular eclipse have already made their plans. Speaking of which, have a great time in Oregon!

Rich

Saturday 16th of September 2023

You mention North Carolina as a state to view the eclipse, but it is not in the path of totality….

TheRVgeeks

Saturday 16th of September 2023

Thanks for catching that, Rich. That editing error has been corrected.

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