On August 21, 2017, the continental U.S. experienced its first total solar eclipse (TSE) in a generation and the first to cross from coast to coast in a century. On April 8, 2024, the U.S. will have a second TSE, preceded by an annular ("ring") solar eclipse (ASE) on October 14, 2023. As in 2017, nearly all of North America will experience at least a deep partial eclipse during both events. The AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force ran a series of workshops to prepare the nation for the 2017 TSE. These were instrumental in helping communities in the path of totality manage an influx of visitors; in developing and disseminating appropriate eye-safety information nationwide; and in coordinating the efforts of numerous scientific, educational, governmental, and other organizations to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort.
Looking ahead to 2023-24, the AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force organized the first in a new series of annual planning workshops at the 234th AAS meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, in June 2019. Plans for a 2020 workshop were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the countdown reached T (totality) minus 3 years, we held a virtual workshop April 9-10, 2021. We had hoped to resume in-person workshops in San Antonio, Texas, in April 2022, but the omicron coronavirus surge thwarted that plan, so we held another virtual workshop instead. We hope we can resume in-person workshops in October 2022.
We are particularly keen to welcome workshop participants from Canada and Mexico, as both the October 2023 ASE and April 2024 TSE grace one or both of those countries too. And we welcome community leaders and other stakeholders both inside and outside the paths of annularity (2023) and/or totality (2024).
- October 21-22, 2022, Rochester, New York (host: Rochester Museum & Science Center)
- Spring 2023, Cleveland, Ohio (hosts: Great Lakes Science Center, NASA Glenn Research Center)
- October 27-28, 2023, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire (hosts: Appalachian Mountain Club, NH Solar Eclipse Task Force, Mountains of Stars)
- January 6-7, 2024, 243rd AAS Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana (host: American Astronomical Society)
- April 2022 Solar Eclipse Planning Workshop (April 8-9, 2022, Virtually Anywhere)
- April 2021 Solar Eclipse Planning Workshop (April 9-10, 2021, Virtually Anywhere)
- June 2019 Solar Eclipse Planning Workshop (June 8-9, 2019, St. Louis, Missouri)
More About the AAS Solar Eclipse Planning Workshops
According to a survey conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, more Americans watched the August 21, 2017, solar eclipse than tuned in to any previous scientific, athletic, or entertainment event. Most experienced only a partial eclipse. But within a narrow path that stretched from Oregon to South Carolina some 20 million people witnessed totality, or "darkness at midday," when the Moon completely covered the Sun's bright face. For more than 2 minutes, these lucky skygazers enjoyed a truly awesome sight: the diaphanous solar corona surrounding the black silhouette of the Moon in a twilight-blue sky with pastel sunset colors all around the horizon. Even more people will experience totality on April 8, 2024, for two reasons: (1) the Moon's dark shadow will pass over several large metropolitan areas in the populous Eastern U.S., and (2) many people who settled for a partial eclipse in August 2017 but heard from others about what they missed will make the extra effort to travel into the path this time.
In the five years leading up to the 2017 TSE, the American Astronomical Society's (AAS's) Solar Eclipse Task Force organized a series of annual workshops involving professional and amateur astronomers; formal and informal educators; representatives of tourism bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, and the hospitality industry; and officials from departments of transportation, state and national parks and forests, law-enforcement agencies, and emergency-management organizations. These workshops were instrumental in helping communities in the path of totality manage an influx of visitors; in developing and disseminating appropriate eye-safety information nationwide; and in coordinating the efforts of numerous scientific, educational, governmental, and other organizations to avoid unnecessary overlap. This planning paid off, as there were very few eye injuries and — aside from some massive traffic jams as people left their eclipse-viewing sites — almost no other problems.
On April 8, 2024, the Moon's dark shadow will pass from Mexico, through the U.S. from Texas to Maine, and then to Canada rather than crossing from coast to coast, but the path of totality will be wider and touch more big cities than in 2017. Moreover, just six months earlier, on October 14, 2023, North America will experience an annular solar eclipse, when the Moon passes directly in front of the Sun but does not appear quite large enough to completely cover it, turning our daytime star into a thin "ring of fire." The path of annularity passes from Oregon to Texas before crossing parts of Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. It is important to plan well in advance of the 2023 and 2024 solar eclipses, taking advantage of lessons learned from the 2017 event.
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