Image of the eclipse with moon in front of sun

During the eclipse, the moon will block the sun from our view.

Michael Allen Siebold/Getty Images

The Day the Sun Disappears

Millions of Americans will soon have the chance to watch the sun vanish in the middle of the day.

On April 8, people across America will have their eyes on the sky. They’ll be watching an event called a total solar eclipse. This happens when the moon moves between Earth and the sun. The moon blocks nearly all the sun’s light, and day will seem like night.

What Is Happening? 

Total solar eclipses happen on Earth about once every 18 months. But they don’t always occur where people can see them. It’s been seven years since the last total eclipse could be seen over much of the U.S.

Some people will be in total darkness for about four minutes. These people are in what’s called the path of totality. In the U.S., the total eclipse will begin at around 1:30 p.m. local time near Eagle Pass, Texas. Over the next hour, the giant shadow will move northeast. It will pass through 14 other states. 

Jim McMahon/Mapman® 

What Will You See? 

About 32 million Americans live in the path of totality. About 4 million more people are expected to travel to the area. All will be hoping to view total darkness during the daytime.

But even people who aren’t in the path of totality will get a treat. Many will be able to see a partial eclipse. This is when some or most of the sun’s light is blocked. The partial eclipse will be visible in all 48 contiguous U.S. states. 

In New York City, for example, about 90 percent of the sun will be blocked. On the other side of the country, about 34 percent of the sun will be covered in San Francisco, California.

So don’t forget to grab a pair of special eclipse glasses to watch this rare event. Otherwise you’ll have to wait two decades. The next total solar eclipse in the contiguous U.S. won’t take place until 2044.  

  1. According to the article, what causes a total solar eclipse?
  2. How is experiencing a total solar eclipse different from experiencing a partial solar eclipse, based on the article?
  3. According to the sidebar, “How to Watch Safely,” how can you safely view a solar eclipse?
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