How often do total solar eclipses occur and why was Monday’s so rare?

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On April 8, a rare total solar eclipse drew a “path of totality” over North Americathrowing swaths of the United States, Canada and Mexico into darkness in the middle of the day.

TO solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, blocking our view of the sun in its path. It is called a total solar eclipse when the moon completely blocks the light from the sun. These events are rare and can only be seen in specific areas for short periods of time.

The path of totality of the 2024 total solar eclipse extended from Texas to the East Coast. Cities included Dallas, Texas; Buffalo, New York; and Burlington, Vermont, were among the areas with the best views.

The totality map for the April 8, 2024 solar eclipse.

NASA/Getty Images

How often do total solar eclipses occur?

Total solar eclipses are rare, and those visible from the United States are even rarer.

The events occur every one to three years somewhere in the world, but are often only visible from the Earth’s poles or the middle of the ocean.

Several factors intervene to enjoy a total solar eclipse. Viewers need clear skies to ensure the phenomenon is not blocked by clouds, and only those within the path of totality will see the full effect of the sun being obliterated. Those outside the path of totality can still observe a partial eclipse, when the moon covers part of the sun, but not all, NASA said.

The best places to see the total solar eclipse in April

When was the last total solar eclipse?

The last total solar eclipse was in 2021 and was only visible from Antarctica. The period of totality lasted just one minute and 54 seconds, according to NOAA.

He last visible total solar eclipse of North America was in 2017. Parts of the United States, from Oregon to South Carolina, were able to witness this rare phenomenon. BeforeThe last total solar eclipse visible in the US was in 1979, when only five states were in the path of totality.

When will the next total solar eclipse be?

The next total solar eclipse will be on August 12, 2026. according to NOAA. This eclipse will be visible from the Arctic, eastern Greenland, northern Spain and Iceland.

Those who want to see a total solar eclipse in the United States will have to wait much longer. TO Total solar eclipse will not occur in the contiguous United States until August 2044.

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