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What makes the total solar eclipse of 2024 so significant?

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solar eclipse of 2024

Most solar eclipses are spectacular occurrences. However, the upcoming total eclipse on April 8 will intensify the experience.

This year's total eclipse will be longer, the sky will get darker, and the sun itself will put on a considerably more spectacular show than the last one that passed over the United States in 2017. Additionally, millions more people will be able to witness one of the most amazing celestial occurrences of their lifetimes by just walking outside their front doors.

In addition, it will be the final significant eclipse to pass across North America in 20 years. Because of all of that, it's a very unique chance for both scientists and lay spectators. 

In April, the moon will appear especially enormous because it will be in a relatively close position in its orbit to Earth. For those who are lucky enough to reach the path of totality, when the moon totally obscures the sun's disk, the eclipse will be particularly dark and endure for almost four and a half minutes. That exceeds the duration of the 2017 Great American Eclipse by over two minutes.

Additionally, in 2024, the sun will be nearing its solar maximum. Its approximately 11-year activity cycle peaks at that point. The result is that the solar corona, or outer atmosphere of the sun, will produce several dazzling, petal-shaped plasma streamers. A coronal mass ejection, which is a massive puff of hot gas trapped in a magnetic field loop and blasted away from the sun's surface, is more likely to occur when solar activity increases.

With more time to witness the eclipse and a more active solar eclipse, scientists will benefit from a better display as well as an abundance of telescopes, sensors, and satellites to research the sun. The streamers and, if one happens, a coronal mass ejection, should be visible to spectators without the need for additional equipment.

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