April 8 total solar eclipse: Why this eclipse repeats itself every 54 years

Estimated read time 11 min read

When the moon’s central shadow races at more than 1,500 mph (2,400 km/h) across North America in an April 8 total solar eclipse, the resulting spectacle will be both unique and part of a progressing cycle.

This path of totality (the path of the moon’s dark shadow across the face of the Earth) will be narrow, at just 115 miles (185 kilometers) wide, and it will cross parts of Mexico, the U.S. and Canada in a never-to-be-repeated route across the continent, lasting just100 minutes. Only from within that path will viewers experience darkness during the daytime, dropping temperatures and nocturnal animal behavior — and only from within that path will it be possible to look at the totally eclipsed sun’s beautiful corona with the naked eye. (Note: DO NOT look directly at the sun at any time other than totality without wearing a pair of certified solar eclipse glasses.)

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