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THE INC. LIFE

Today’s Total Eclipse Is History. Here’s When You Get Your Next Chance

Didn’t make it to Oregon or South Carolina for totality? You’ll get three more chances in the next seven years.

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BY Minda Zetlin - 22 Aug 2017

solar eclipse

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

If you couldn't or didn't watch today's eclipse--or if you did and you're hungry for more--you're in luck. You'll get another chance reasonably soon.

Even away from totality, today's eclipse was an extraordinary experience. My husband and I watched with eclipse glasses from our Western Washington deck as the moon first chipped out a little piece out of the sun, then worked its way fairly quickly across until only a bare sliver was left. At that point the ambient light was just...weird. Sort of like twilight, but not. Leaves cast crescent-shaped shadows on our driveway. Grasshoppers began trilling as they usually only do near sunset time. The air grew surprisingly chilly. And then, in a few minutes, the whole process reversed itself. The sun returned and began baking our faces again. The crescent-shaped shadows turned back into regular leaf shapes. From beginning to end, the event took two and a half hours, with about three minutes of maximum effect.

It was definitely worth rearranging my schedule for the event. But what if you didn't or couldn't stop whatever you were doing earlier today to watch the astronomical show?

Don't worry. Although a total eclipses is often referred to as a once-in-a-lifetime event, that's not necessarily true. In fact, there's a total eclipse somewhere on earth once about every 18 months. Unfortunately, because about three quarters of the earth is covered with ocean, most of the places to see totality for most of these eclipses are on water rather than land. Fortunately, there will still be plenty of places to see totality with your feet on the ground over the next seven years, and Consumer Reports has thoughtfully compiled a list of them along with some info on eclipse tourism.

Here's what's coming up:

1. April 8, 2024-Totality in US, Mexico and Canada.

Today's eclipse cut across the United States diagonally, from the Northwest to the Southeast, with the totality band crossing from Oregon to South Carolina. The 2024 eclipse will cut diagonally across the U.S. from the Southwest to the Northeast, passing from Mexico through Texas, eastward and northward through Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and finally Newfoundland.

Of course, if you've ever been in the Northeast in early April, you know that rain is always a possibility. If you're determined to see totality in all its glory, consider traveling to Mexico or Texas for better odds.

2. July 2, 2019-Totality in the South Pacific, Chile, and Argentina.

If 2024 is too long to wait, there will be three other total eclipses in the meantime, but unfortunately none of them will be visible from the United States. The first, in just under two years, will be visible from ships in the South Pacific, and also on land in Chile and in Argentina, west of Buenos Aires, where it will arrive just around sunset. If you plan to go, keep in mind that July is winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

3. December 14, 2020-Totality in South Pacific, Chile, Argentina, and Antarctica.

Totality will only last about two minutes for this eclipse which follows a similar path to the July 2019 one. However, it might be a better one to watch because it will happen when the sun is high in the sky rather than at sunset. Also, December is summer in South America, which will make for less snow and easier traveling. Christmas break, anyone?

4. December 4, 2021-Totality in Antarctica, South Africa, and the South Atlantic.

This will be the most difficult of the next few total eclipses to see, since totality will occur only in some rugged and inaccessible places. The best (though not cheapest) option will be to chase the eclipse in an aircraft. Or else wait two and a half years for the Texas-to-Maine eclipse.

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