Eclipse of a Lifetime

Eclipse of a Lifetime

By: Kate Farho

March 18, 2024

From the celestial spectacle itself to the unique viewing experiences of dedicated eclipse chasers, we explore the eagerly anticipated solar eclipse of April 8th, 2024, and valuable information to know.

On April 8, 2024, the United States will experience its first total solar eclipse since 2017, a celestial event eagerly anticipated by astronomers and enthusiasts alike. According to NASA, the spectacle will first be seen from Mexico’s west coast at 11:07 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time and will exit North America in Newfoundland, Canada at 5:16 p.m.

Total solar eclipses occur when the moon aligns between the sun and Earth, casting the sky into darkness. During this awe-inspiring event, the sun’s corona, the outermost layer of the sun that can only be seen during a total solar eclipse, dances around the moon’s silhouette. The spectacle is a breathtaking display that can evoke a sense of reverence in those who are fortunate enough to witness it.

Despite occurring roughly every 18 months, the path of totality, a mere 100-mile span, rarely repeats in the same location, making each experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the average person.

For umbraphiles, eclipse enthusiasts who eagerly travel to witness these total eclipses, the allure goes beyond a single occurrence. Fortunately, recent years have presented increasing opportunities for eclipse enthusiasts to view the phenomenon.

In 2017, airlines such as Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, and Alaska coordinated flights along the path of totality, offering passengers a unique view. This year, Delta Airlines is introducing an innovative viewing experience, with two flights traveling the path of totality from Texas to Michigan. This will allow passengers to view the total eclipse for the duration of the flight!

However, such experiences come at a price, with tickets ranging from around $800 for main cabin seating to well over $1000 for first class. Despite the temptation of viewing the total eclipse from the sky, uncertainties surrounding factors such as seating arrangements, flight delays, and inclement weather may deter some from exploring this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Yet, the flight sold out. For dedicated eclipse chasers and umbraphiles like Kate Russo, who is also a psychologist and author, the risk is negligible compared to the view of the world during totality. Russo has journeyed to remote corners of the globe to witness 13 solar eclipses over two decades.

“A total eclipse of the Sun is one of the most dramatic and awe-inspiring events of the natural world,” Russo said. It transcends ordinary existence, evoking the feeling of aliveness, wonder, and primitive fear.

Even without an airplane ticket, it is still possible to have the same experience with the universe on the ground. It might even be more special to see the moon and sun move from one static position on the Earth. Regardless, the eclipse on April 8, 2024, will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that anyone in North America should get outside for; it will be the last one in North America until 2044. 

With viewing the eclipse from 30,000 feet in the air, or from the comfort of home, it is important to wear protective eyewear. Only during the eclipse’s total phase, when the moon completely obscures the sun, is it safe to view without protection.

So as the celestial phenomenon unfolds, society will marvel at the wonders of the universe and celebrate the connection to the cosmos. Happy viewing!

Kate Farho is a senior studying Experience Architecture with a minor in Graphic Design. In the past, she has been a Graphic Designer for the Red Cedar Log and is currently their Associate Editor-In-Chief. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, jogging, and spending time with her dog.