The new moon phase on April 8 will cause the 2024 total solar eclipse

The new moon will occur on April 8 at 2:21 PM EDT (1821 GMT) and will herald a “Great American Eclipse” – the first total solar eclipse to hit the lower 48 states since August 2017.

This time the eclipse track runs from southwest to northeast, starting in the Pacific Ocean, landing in Mexico and passing through San Antonio, Texas; Carbondale, Illinois (which was also in the path of totality before the Solar eclipse of 2017); Cleveland, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; and the Maritime Provinces of Canada.

New moons occur when the moon is directly between the sun and Earth; from the observer’s point of view, the two bodies share the same celestial longitude, a projection of Earth’s longitude lines on the sky. Generally, the moon passes a few degrees north or south of the Sun in the sky, because the Moon’s orbit is slightly inclined to the plane of Earth’s orbit. This time, however, he will pass right in front of you the suncausing a total solar eclipse.

Related: Total solar eclipse 2024: everything you need to know


A Celestron telescope on a white background

A Celestron telescope on a white background

Looking for a telescope to view the features of the full moon up close? We recommend the Celestron Astro Fi 102 as the top choice in our best telescope for beginners guide. Don’t forget a moon filter!

Total solar eclipses are not very rare – they happen about once every 18 months – but the track of the moon’s shadow is narrow. This means that the chances of you being in the right place to accidentally observe a total solar eclipse are small, and solar eclipses are only visible from a certain location. Soil at intervals of years; North America, for example, experiences one every ten years on average.

For those not fortunate enough to be in the path of totality on April 8, a partial solar eclipse will be visible over an area covering much of North America, allowing millions of people to see the dark part of the sun can see the moon.

But for those who can’t see the eclipse at all – those in the Eastern Hemisphere or South America – the night of April’s new moon will offer some visible planets in the pre-dawn sky and one in the evening.

Visible planets

On the night of April 8, after the sun sets, observers in the mid-northern latitudes will see it Jupiter in the western sky; it will probably be one of the first “stars” to appear in the evening. Jupiter sets from New York City 9:55 PM local time on April 8; Sunset is at 7:28 PM and the planet starts to become visible around 8:00 PM

The next planets to rise will do so just before sunrise. Mars and Saturn will be close in the early morning hours; from New York, Mars is the first to rise 5:08am EDTand Saturn follows 5:12 am. Sunrise is over 6:25 am. At civil dawn at 5:57 amWhen the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon and the sky becomes light, Mars and Saturn are only about 8 degrees high, so the pair will be difficult to see without an unobstructed and clear horizon. (Your fist held at arm’s length covers about 10 degrees of the sky.)

As one moves south, the two planets appear higher at sunrise. For example, from Miami, sunrise on April 9 is over 7:03am EDTa little later than in New York, but Mars and Saturn will appear slightly higher at 6:40 am (civil dawn) – about 14 degrees, because the angle between the ecliptic (the path the sun takes through the sky) and the horizon is steeper. The positions of the planets improve as one goes further south; from Bogota, Colombia, which is closer to the equator, Mars rises at 3:44 a.m. local time and Saturn at 3:46 a.m.; both planets are at about 24 degrees as the sky lightens, even though sunrise is at 5:52 a.m. local time on April 9.

As we reach the Southern Hemisphere, the two planets will be slightly north of east and appear higher; Another advantage for Antipodeans is that April enters the Australian winter months, when nights are longer and sunrise occurs later in the day. From Sydney, Australia, Mars and Saturn will rise on April 9 at 3:20 AM and 3:27 AM local time respectively, reaching approximately 29 degrees at sunrise at 5:48 AM (sunrise is at 6:13 AM local time). ).

Related: The Brightest Planets in April’s Night Sky: How to See Them (and When)

Star signs

In early April, skygazers in mid-northern latitudes will see the bright winter constellations to the west in the evening; from New York, Chicago or San Francisco around 8:30 PM, when the sky is completely dark, Orion will be in the southwest. You can still see the bright ‘winter hexagon’ formed by (counterclockwise) Sirius, Rigel, Aldebaran, Capella, Pollux and Procyon, with Betelgeuse in the middle.

Like winter star signs As they depart, looking to the southeast, Leo the Lion can be seen, with Regulus marking the Lion’s chest and forequarters and Denebola marking the end of his tail. One way to recognize Regulus is to look for the triangle formed by Sirius, the brightest star in the sky; Betelgeuse, Orion’s right shoulder; and Procyon, the alpha star of the little dog, Canis Minor. Follow the line between Betelgeuse and Procyon east (to the left) and the next bright star is Regulus. Above Regulus you can also see a distinctive crescent shape formed by five stars (the brightest of which is called Algeiba), namely the lion’s head and mane. Leo can also be identified by a rectangle of medium-bright stars that can still be seen even in illuminated cities and suburbs. The bottom of the rectangle can be extended east to find Denebola.

Turning north, the Big dipper, part of Ursa Major the Big Dipper, will be nearly vertical, with the bowl facing left (north). By following the handle and making a wide turn, you can arc to Arcturus and see that star almost due east. Arcturus is the brightest star in Boötes, the Herdsman, and has a striking orange color. You can also use the Dipper to find Regulus. Using the two stars marking the back of the bowl (closest to the handle), draw a line south and the bright star on that line is Regulus.

As the night progresses, you will see Virgo rising. To find her, you can use the same “arc to Arcturus” technique and just keep going until you hit Spica, the bright white alpha star of Virgo. Spica will have gotten up at 8 p.m., but an hour later it will be much easier to spot.

Related: Night sky, April 2024: what you can see tonight [maps]


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A fainter constellation to spot is Hydra, whose brightest star, Alphard, lies between Procyon and Regulus and south of both, forming a triangle with its point pointing south (toward the horizon). Alphard is weaker than both Regulus and Procyon; it is a yellowish color and sometimes faded in urban locations. The Hydra forms a line of stars stretching below the horizon; as you follow its winding path you can sometimes see the crater, the cup, if you have dark skies.

Winter is approaching in the Southern Hemisphere – April is an autumn month – and by 8pm at the latitude of Cape Town or Melbourne the sun has completely set. If you look to the southeast you will see the Southern Cross about halfway up the sky, and below it two bright stars. The one lower on the horizon Alpha Centauri, also known as Rigil Kentaurus, and just above it lies Hadar. Both are part of the Centaur, representing Chiron, who taught the legendary Greek heroes Heracles, Theseus and Jason.

Looking southwest, close to the horizon, is Achernar, which marks the end of Eridanus, the river. From mid-southern latitudes it never sets: it is circumpolar. If you look directly above Achernar, the next really bright star you see is Canopus, or Alpha Carinae. Canopus is located in Carina, the ship’s keel. To the right of Carina is Canis Major, and to the left of it a large circle of stars: Vela, the Sail. The ship, the sail and the constellation Puppis, the quarterdeck, which are adjacent to each other, all represent the Argo, the famous ship that Jason sailed with the Argonauts.

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