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(WJW) — It’s a once-in-a-lifetime, out-of-this-world event. Only 21 total solar eclipses have crossed the lower 48 states in the entire existence of the United States – and Northeast Ohio is the sweet spot for the next total solar eclipse coming April 2024!

On Monday, April 8, 2024, people within a 124-mile-wide band in the state of Ohio will experience a total solar eclipse. Anyone outside the path of totality will experience a partial eclipse – still pretty spectacular.

In preparation for the big event, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency broke down what you need to know to plan ahead.

What is a total solar eclipse?

When the moon cast its shadow on the earth as it passes between the earth and the sun it’s called a solar eclipse. When the moon appears to totally obscure the sun, it’s called total solar eclipse.

(Getty Images)

The 2024 total solar eclipse will trace a narrow path of totality across 13 U.S. states.

A total solar eclipse is a rare and spectacular event. On average, one happens somewhere on the Earth only once every 1.5 years.

Is it dangerous to look at?

Yes, and even if the sun is partially covered, it’s never safe to look directly at the sun’s rays with out the proper eye covering.

But you can still take in the wonder using special-purpose solar filters including eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers.

Take a look at the list of reputable eclipse glasses vendors released by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the eclipse since they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight and could damage the eyes.

Here’s a list of dos and don’ts for your eclipse glasses and hand-held solar viewers:

  • Take a look at your solar filter before use; if it’s scratched or damaged, throw it out.
  • Always supervise children using solar filters.
  • Cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun.
  • After looking at the sun, turn away before removing your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • Do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope or binoculars while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
  • Do use a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device, but seek expert advice.
  • If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on and put your eclipse glasses on over them or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.

See more eye safety tips from NASA here.

Where can we see it?

The path of the total solar eclipse will travel through the U.S. and parts of Canada.

Because the moon will be relatively closer to the Earth during the 2024 eclipse, it’ll be larger and last longer in duration, about 5 minutes. The totality path of the 2024 solar eclipse is expected to be about 124 miles wide compared to the path of the 2017 solar eclipse that was about 71 miles wide.

It’ll stretch across 13 states, from Texas to New Hampshire.

The point of greatest duration for the total solar eclipse will be in Northeast Ohio in Avon Lake in Lorain County, 23 miles west of Cleveland.

A partial solar eclipse will be seen before and after the total eclipse. Anyone outside the outer limits of totality will only be able to see a partial eclipse.

Make a day of it

Because Ohio is within a one-day drive for 70% of the country’s population, large crowds are expected. Anyone traveling to see the awe-inspiring event is encouraged to “Come Early, Stay Late.” Ohio has many indoor and outdoor attractions, including parks, museums and zoos. More information is available on Ohio’s Tourism webpage.

The last total solar eclipse visible in Ohio was in 1806. The next total solar eclipse in Ohio will be in the year 2099.

Click here for more on the total solar eclipse in 2024.