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Totality: A Comprehensive Guide to the April 8th Total Solar Eclipse Across North America

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What to watch for on April 8th as totality sweeps across the continent.

The time has come. Seven years ago on an August afternoon, the shadow on the Moon swept across the United States. Now we’re in the one month stretch, leading up to the big ticket astronomical event for 2024: the April 8th total solar eclipse spanning North America.

This is the last total solar eclipse for the ‘lower 48 states’ until August 23rd, 2044. Totality does nick remote northwest corner of the state of Alaska on March 30th, 2033. The path of totality on April 8th spans Mexico, the contiguous United States from Texas to Maine, and the Canadian Maritimes.

Eclipse Path
The path of the April 8th, 2024 total solar eclipse. Credit: Michael Zeiler/Great American Eclipse

The eclipse will be partial from southeast Alaska, all the way down to the very northwest edge of South America. Hawaii will see a rising partial. On the other end, Iceland and the very western coast of Ireland will see the reverse underway at sunset.

A rising partial solar eclipse, over NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building. Credit: Dave Dickinson

A Penumbral Prelude

The first eclipse season of 2024 actually begins on the night of Sunday/Monday March 24/25. A penumbral lunar eclipse that night puts the whole celestial game into play. This subtle eclipse is visible from the Americas. Don’t expect to see much more than a slight ragged darkening on the southwest limb of the Moon around 7:12 Universal Time.

Though it’s a slight affair, this penumbral eclipse means that the nodes where the Moon’s path intersect the ecliptic are aligning for the total solar eclipse two weeks later. Though the 2017 event was an ascending node eclipse, the 2024 one is a descending node event, crisscrossing the path.

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The path of the April 8th eclipse. NASA/GSFC/A.T. Sinclair

Tales of the Saros

This eclipse is member 30 of the 71 eclipses in solar saros series 139. This saros began way back on May 17th, 1501, and produced its first fully total solar eclipse (as opposed to a hybrid annular-total) on December 21st, 1843. It’ll cease doing so with the brief total solar eclipse of March 26th, 2601, and finally end on July 3rd, 2763.

A photograph of coronal streamers seen during the 1898 eclipse, another saros 139 member. Credit: Public Domain image.

One famous alumni for saros 139 occurred one exeligmos (three saroses or 54 years) ago on March 7th, 1970. This eclipse moved right up the U.S. East Coast in a path just slightly east of the upcoming eclipse. The three saros period is crucial, as each pass shifts the path 120 degrees in longitude westward, and three brings it nearly back around the globe full circle. The 1970 eclipse is one of two suspects referenced in Carly Simon’s song You’re so Vain… and the April 8th eclipse passes over the very tip of northern Nova Scotia. Will someone once again take their “Learjet to Nova Scotia, to see a total eclipse of the Sun?”

To be sure, we enjoy living in an epoch on a planet where total solar eclipses can occur… but this won’t always be the case. The Moon is slowly receding from the Earth, meaning that in about 600 million years time, all solar eclipses will be partial or annular only. Already, in the current 5,000 year epoch, annulars are now more common than totals. We’re also not the only place in the solar system where you could stand and see a moon versus the Sun in a close fit; the surfaces of the Jovian moons witness something similar about twice a decade.

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Chasing the Shadow of the Moon

On Monday April 8th, the action begins when the penumbral (partial) shadow of the Moon first touches down over the South Pacific at 15:42 Universal Time (UT). Then, the inner umbral shadow touches down over the south-central Pacific at 16:42 UT, sweeping its way to the northeast. The shadow then first makes landfall over the…

…mobility and road access is key on eclipse day. Range and options dwindle hours prior as to where to head to observe. NOAA’s GOES-East is a great site to see how the potential cloud cover situation is developing come eclipse day. Don’t despair if clouds thwart the view: nearly every eclipse chaser has at least one story of the one that got away, with plans made to head to the next opportunity.

During totality, it’s essential to enjoy the experience without distractions. The sudden transition from daylight to an eerie twilight is a unique phenomenon that should be appreciated. Observing the corona, the ethereal outermost atmosphere of the Sun, and the appearance of planets and stars in the darkened sky adds to the magical moment of totality.

Total solar eclipses are rare events that offer a glimpse into the dynamic interplay between celestial bodies in our solar system. They provide a unique opportunity to witness cosmic phenomena that are not only awe-inspiring but also scientifically significant.

As we gear up for the April 8th total solar eclipse, it’s important to remember the safety precautions required during the event. Proper eye protection and precautions to avoid looking directly at the Sun are crucial to prevent any damage to the eyes.

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Whether you’re a seasoned eclipse chaser or a first-time observer, the April 8th total solar eclipse promises to be a memorable celestial event. So mark your calendars, prepare your viewing equipment, and get ready to witness the beauty and wonder of totality as the Moon’s shadow sweeps across North America.

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Immigration in Maine Addressing Labor Shortage Could Set Trend for U.S.

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A significant labor gap in Maine’s lobster industry is being filled by immigrants, shedding light on the critical role that foreign-born workers are likely to play in the U.S. economy as the native-born population ages. Maine, known for its abundant lobster population, is grappling with an aging workforce that is increasingly unable to sustain the demands of the thriving lobster industry, valued at $1 billion.

Ben Conniff, a founder of Luke’s Lobster, underscores the importance of immigrants in sustaining the natural resources economy of the state, as many native-born workers are not inclined towards manufacturing work in food processing. Since its establishment in 2013, Luke’s Lobster has heavily relied on immigrants to staff its lobster processing plant, highlighting the vital role played by foreign-born workers in filling labor gaps.

With Maine boasting the oldest population in the U.S., with a median age of 45.1, the state offers a glimpse into the economic future of America, where immigrants are poised to be a crucial source of new workers and economic vitality in the coming years.

As immigration continues to be a hotly debated topic in the country, the influx of immigrants has been instrumental in boosting the American economy’s potential. The Congressional Budget Office has revised upwards its population and economic growth projections for the next decade, attributing the growth to the wave of newcomers entering the workforce.

Maine’s initiatives to attract and integrate immigrants into the workforce, such as the creation of an Office of New Americans, reflect the state’s proactive approach towards addressing labor shortages. Private companies like Luke’s Lobster have also taken steps to diversify and supplement the aging lobster fishing industry by training immigrants and minorities in lobster fishing and licensing processes.

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Chadai Gatembo, an 18-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, exemplifies the success story of immigrants finding opportunities in Maine. Despite facing challenges on his journey to the U.S., Gatembo is now on the path to becoming a full-fledged lobsterman, showcasing the potential for immigrants to thrive in new industries.

The influx of immigrants is not without its challenges, with issues of work authorization and economic stability confronting many newcomers. Adriana Hernandez, a mother of four from Venezuela, highlights the economic hardship faced by immigrants awaiting work permits, underscoring the barriers faced by unauthorized workers in integrating into the labor market.

Despite these challenges, the overall impact of immigration on the U.S. economy is significant. Immigrants have helped to bolster job growth, insulate the economy against downturns, and contribute to a more diverse and innovative workforce. Economists predict that immigration will play a crucial role in addressing labor shortages and demographic shifts as the native-born population ages.

The entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants like Chenda Chamreoun, who has risen from lobster cleaning to a quality assurance supervisor and now aims to start her own catering business, showcases the economic potential of foreign-born workers. Immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial, adding to the innovation and productivity of the American economy.

J. Edward Moreno contributed reporting from New York, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Washington.

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