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7 of the Best Places To Watch the Total Eclipse of 2024

View of Lake Erie from Erie, Pennsylvania
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On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will pass over North America. As the moon transits between sun and Earth, blocking the light of the sun, the sky over the U.S., Canada and Mexico will darken as if it was dusk or dawn, NASA explains.

It will be 2044 before another total solar eclipse is visible from the contiguous U.S.

The 2024 eclipse will be visible from anywhere in North America unless cloud cover interferes with your view. But most places will experience only a partial blackout of the sun. For the full effect, you’ll need to be in the path of the “totality,” where the sun’s light is completely blocked.

It’s not too soon to make plans for viewing the big event. We’ve selected a number of the best viewing locations in the eclipse’s path of totality. We based the selection on a combination of things, including local eclipse events, amenities for out-of-town travelers and the duration of the total eclipse in each locale as reported by GreatAmericanEclipse.com.

Following are several of the best places to watch the total solar eclipse.

Safety first

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Here’s great news: You won’t need a telescope. However, you definitely will need specialized eye protection. Looking directly at the sun, even through a camera, telescope or binoculars “will instantly cause severe eye injury,” NASA warns.

Don’t try viewing an eclipse wearing regular sunglasses, either. Safety, in this case, means using specialized eye protection such as a handheld solar viewer, eclipse glasses, or solar filter fitted to a telescope, binoculars or camera lens.

Or, watch indirectly with a device you’ve made yourself. Indirect viewers can include a cereal-box pinhole viewer or even a cracker (one like a Ritz, that has tiny holes), a colander or tree leaves, Texas’ McDonald Observatory assistant director Katie Kizziar tells Texas Monthly.

Learn more:

Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas
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In this location, the total solar eclipse will:

  • Begin at: 1:40 p.m. CT
  • Last for: 3 minutes and 47 seconds

Texans supposedly like to brag that their state is the biggest and best. Well, this time, at least, they may have it right. In the U.S. the eclipse will first be visible in southern Texas after it departs Mexico.

“Texas will have (the) greatest path of totality of any state in the United States,” according to NBC Channel 5 in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The entire Dallas-Fort Worth area is inside the path of totality.

Poplar Bluff, Missouri

Poplar Bluff, Missouri
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In this location, the total solar eclipse will:

  • Begin at: 1:56 p.m. CDT
  • Last for: 4 minutes and 8 seconds

The Poplar Bluff Area Chamber of Commerce is ready: There’s “merch,” including a T-shirt that says “I Got Mooned in Poplar Bluff.” And the chamber’s calendar of eclipse events include, so far, a night golf, an educational talk by former NASA astronaut Tom Akers and a Total Eclipse of the Bluff Festival.

Carbondale, Illinois

Total solar eclipse observers in Carbondale, Illinois
Ken Schulze / Shutterstock.com

In this location, the total solar eclipse will:

  • Begin at: 1:59 p.m. CDT
  • Last for: 4 minutes and 8 seconds

Carbondale has erected a website, EclipseCarbondale.org, to capitalize on the city’s moment in (and out of) the sun. Its motto — “Southern Illinois, eclipse crossroads of America” — is a nod to the fact that the path of the Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse reached its point of greatest duration near Carbondale as well as the city’s position in the path of totality for 2024.

If you are in Carbondale on April 8, don’t miss Southern Illinois University’s Crossroads Eclipse Festival. Plans include a public eclipse viewing at the university’s football stadium, talks and presentations, eclipse science information and an arts and crafts fair.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis, Indiana
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In this location, the total solar eclipse will:

  • Begin at: 3:06 p.m. EDT
  • Last for: 3 minutes and 46 seconds

Eclipse excitement is building in Indianapolis. Butler University’s Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium celebrates that, after 819 years, the city’s “long total solar eclipse drought will finally end.” Butler will host eclipse-related activities on campus from February through April of 2024.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home to the Indy 500, is jumping into the act, too, promising “an exciting day of programming and celebration.”

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio
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In this location, the total solar eclipse will:

  • Begin at: 3:13 p.m. EDT
  • Last for: 3 minutes and 50 seconds

Here’s “Everything You Need to Know About the total Solar Eclipse in Cleveland.” The report links to events, planning, food and lodging and city information.

Keep an eye on the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for events focused on the science of the eclipse.

Erie, Pennsylvania

Erie Pennsylvania
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In this location, the total solar eclipse will:

  • Begin at: 3:16 p.m. EDT
  • Last for: 3 minutes and 43 seconds

If you are going to be in or near Pennsylvania in spring, it makes sense to choose Erie as your eclipse hub. VisitErie.com has traveler and lodging information.

The centerline of the eclipse path doesn’t touch dry land at all in Pennsylvania, says NationalEclipse.com. Rather, the totality path’s centerline runs through Lake Erie. But don’t let that stop you. The city of Erie is “about as close to the centerline as you can get in Pennsylvania without getting your feet wet,” the site says.

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo, New York
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In this location, the total solar eclipse will:

  • Begin at: 3:18 p.m. EDT
  • Last for: 3 minutes and 45 seconds

BuffaloEclipse.org, created by Buffalo area science and community organizations, lists at least seven parks with equipment and trained operators that will be available to help the public view the eclipse. Lodging, meals and tips for outdoor recreation are found at Visit Buffalo Niagara.

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