National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

On Monday, April 8, 2024, a rare total solar eclipse will be observed across Mexico, the United States and Canada. The path of totality will be carved out across southeast Oklahoma and west-central Arkansas from southwest to northeast during the early afternoon hours. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon orbits between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow on the earth’s surface. Total solar eclipses occur somewhere on Earth every 18 months on average. However, the Moon’s diameter is roughly one-quarter of Earth’s (about the width of Australia), so it casts a small shadow. Thus, any given location on Earth is estimated to see a total solar eclipse only every 360 to 410 years on average. Saying this event is “rare” may be taking it too lightly.



Courtesy of NASA


For some, it is a once in a lifetime event. The next total solar eclipse viewable in the contiguous United States will be more than 20 years later on August 22 and 23 of 2044. The next total solar eclipse viewable in Oklahoma and Arkansas will be on August 12, 2045.


Eye and Skin Safety During a Total Solar Eclipse


It is always harmful to your eyes to look directly at the Sun without specialized eye protection, with the exception of the few minutes during totality. Normal sunglasses DO NOT provide sufficient protection to look directly at the Sun, eclipse viewers will need special eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer. Looking at any part of the Sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the lens will cause severe eye injury.

Below are some important safety guidelines to follow during a total solar eclipse, courtesy of NASA:


  • View the Sun through special eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer during the partial eclipse phases before and after  totality.

  • You can view the eclipse directly without eye protection ONLY during totality when the Moon completely obscures the Sun's bright face. You will know when it's safe to look when you no longer see the sun through your eclipse glasses or a solar viewer.

  • As soon as you see even a small portion of the bright face of the Sun reappear following totality, immediately put your eclipse glasses back on or use a handheld solar viewer to look at the Sun.

  • Remember, totality will only last for a few minutes. The sun will still be bright during partial phases of the eclipse. If you are planning on being outside for an extended period of time to watch the entire eclipse, remember to wear sunscreen or protective clothing.