Preview of Next Week’s Solar Eclipse by GCSU Astronomy Professor

The upcoming solar eclipse on April 8 is anticipated to be a greater astronomical spectacle than the last total solar eclipse that crossed America in 2017. While Georgia won’t witness a total solar eclipse this time, residents will have the opportunity to see a partial eclipse, marking the last one until 2045. Dr. Donovan Domingue, a professor of physics and astronomy at Georgia College & State University, believes this event can offer valuable insights into the relationship between the sun, earth, and moon, and their movements in space.

In preparation for the event, Domingue has been educating teachers in local schools about the science of an eclipse and has also distributed 30,000 safe-viewing glasses. Despite the scientific explanations, numerous conspiracy theories have surrounded the upcoming eclipse. Some fear its path’s proximity to the New Madrid Seismic Zone, referencing a series of earthquakes that occurred after an 1811 solar eclipse. Others have noted the eclipse’s path includes towns named Jonah and Nineveh, invoking Biblical stories of repentance.

However, Domingue dismisses these theories, noting that eclipse paths, or Saros cycles, repeat every 18 years, 11 days, and 8 hours and are mathematically predictable. He adds that the 2024 solar eclipse promises to be brighter and more spectacular due to the sun being close to a solar maximum and the moon being closer to Earth. These conditions could lead to larger solar material eruptions and more sun blockage by the moon.

The 2024 eclipse is also remarkable for several reasons. It’s rare for a region like the U.S. to experience two total solar eclipses within seven years. While the 2017 eclipse moved from northwest to southeast, this year’s eclipse will move from southwest to northeast. Maximum viewing times this year are also nearly twice as long as in 2017, and the eclipse corridor is also wider. Given its path through denser populations, even more Americans will have the opportunity to witness this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon.

In conclusion, Domingue encourages everyone not to miss the upcoming solar eclipse, as the next one won’t occur until 2045. Protective glasses, which are essential for safe viewing, are available in limited quantities through various outlets. The partial eclipse in Milledgeville will last 2 hours and 34 minutes, with a 68% chance of clear skies at peak viewing time.

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