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 overlap.
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. While we intend to resume annual in-person workshops in 2022, we didn't want to wait till then to get the eclipse-planning community back together. So, as the countdown reached T (totality) minus 3 years, we held a virtual workshop April 9-10, 2021.
- 2021 Solar Eclipse Planning Workshop (9-10 April 2021, Virtually Anywhere)
- 2019 Solar Eclipse Planning Workshop (8-9 June 2019, St. Louis, Missouri)
We issued a call for proposals to host future workshops leading up to the 2023 and 2024 solar eclipses, and after evaluating all the proposals we received, we have chosen the following locations and time frames (exact dates to be determined):
- March 25-26, 2022, San Antonio, Texas (hosts: University of Texas, San Antonio; Scobee Education Center; Alamo STEM Ecosystem)
- Fall 2022, Rochester, New York (host: Rochester Museum & Science Center)
- Spring 2023, Cleveland, Ohio (hosts: Great Lakes Science Center, NASA Glenn Research Center)
- Fall 2023, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire (hosts: Appalachian Mountain Club, NH Solar Eclipse Task Force, Mountains of Stars)
- January 2024, 243rd AAS Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana (host: American Astronomical Society)
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. 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.
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 (ASE), 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.
It is important to plan well in advance of the 2023 and 2024 solar eclipses, taking advantage of lessons learned from the 2017 event. Accordingly, the AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force is organizing another series of annual planning workshops. The first was held in conjunction with the 234th AAS meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, on June 8-9, 2019. The second was a virtual workshop on April 9-10, 2021. In the coming years 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 the paths of annularity (2023) and/or totality (2024) and outside, for — as in 2017— nearly all of North America will experience at least a deep partial eclipse.