Originally posted to web site August 4, 2015.
On the heels of the 2014-2015 lunar tetrad come two total solar eclipses that will hold many in awe as the sun turns dark over America from coast to coast.
On August 21, 2017, a solar eclipse begins in the Pacific Ocean at sunrise. Visible throughout North America, the path of totality makes landfall mid-morning in Oregon, transits over Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee, then exits mid-afternoon over South Carolina and onto the Atlantic Ocean.
On April 8, 2024, the sun is eclipsed over the Pacific Ocean at sunrise. Making landfall near Mazatlan, Mexico, its darkness sweeps into the USA at a point in southwest Texas. For the next hour or so, the path of totality engulfs parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Vermont, and Maine before making its exit into New Brunswick, Canada.
The animations here show the shadows of the upcoming total solar eclipses as they envelop the USA mainland.
The dot in the center of the shadow is path of totality, where the sun turns dark over America as if it were night. Images: NASA
How common is a total solar eclipse over North America?
Most of earth’s surface lacks people. About 71% is covered with water, and only about 40% of the land is populated. It follows, then, that most eclipses fall over water and unpopulated land. Few have a path of totality over major population centers, and relatively few of those transit over North America.
The last two over any point in the United States were visible only in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.
In February 1979, a total solar eclipse crossed the far northwest corner of the continental USA:
February 6, 1979, total solar eclipse. Image: NASA.
In July 1991, a total solar eclipse was visible over Hawaii:
July 11, 1991, total solar eclipse. Image: NASA.
We have to go back to June 8, 1918– the summer that the bulk of America’s troops arrived in Europe to fight WWI — for the last solar eclipse with a path of totality crossing the USA from Pacific to Atlantic:
June 8, 1918, total solar eclipse. Image: NASA.
Only a handful of people alive today were around to see the total solar eclipse of 1918. Many Americans have lived and died without an opportunity to see one within driving distance. People living into their seventies, eighties, and most now in their nineties have not seen it.
Sun turns dark over America — the conclusion of a sign?
That lack of opportunity is about to end. The animation below shows that over the next seven years or so just about everyone in the USA will be within driving distance of a spot where they can be a witness along with their family and friends as the sun turns dark over America.
It seems to make an “X” over the country, doesn’t it? What could that mark mean?
Add this to what we saw in the lunar eclipse visibility maps in Blood moons were just the beginning and we might wonder what we are experiencing as blackness covers us when the sun turns dark over America during the total solar eclipses of 2017 and 2024. Is this part 2 of the sign? What does it mean? Who is it for? We’ll start to explore that in the next section of the series, Signs in the heavens: Facts and speculation.