A Celestial Seacoast Event: April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse


I’m a total space nerd. For one thing, I’ve been teaching Astronomy to middle schoolers for over a decade – but ever since I saw the movie Contact in 8th grade, I’ve been pretty much obsessed with space. As a result, I’m beyond excited about the upcoming celestial phenomena coming to New England – a total solar eclipse. On April 8, 2024 at around 3:30 pm, residents of northern New England (Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont) will be treated to a breathtaking display as the moon completely blocks the sun for about 3 minutes. *As long as it’s not cloudy*, this should be a truly awe-inspiring event. If you’re a space nerd like me – or maybe your child is – here’s all you need to know to witness the April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.

Understanding the April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun and obscures part of the sun’s light. The April 2024 event will be a total solar eclipse, meaning the sun will be completely covered by the moon for about a three minute duration as it casts a shadow known as the umbra on Earth. The last time this happened in New Hampshire was in 1959, and the next time a solar eclipse will be visible in the contiguous United states won’t be until 2044. 

total solar eclipse
A total solar eclipse will be viewable in northern parts of VT, ME, and NH near 3:30 pm on Monday, April 8, 2024.

Safety First – How to View the Eclipse

While I’m told witnessing a total solar eclipse is an unforgettable experience, it’s crucial to prioritize safety when observing this solar event. Staring directly at the sun, even during an eclipse, can cause eye damage. To view the eclipse safely, consider the following precautions:

  • Solar Viewing Glasses: Use certified solar viewing glasses to protect your eyes. These special glasses block harmful ultraviolet, visible, and infrared radiation, ensuring a safe viewing experience. You can buy these on amazon individually or as a family pack. Don’t wait until the last minute because they sell out!
  •  Pinhole Projector: Another safe way to observe the eclipse is by creating a pinhole projector. This simple device projects an image of the partially eclipsed Sun onto a surface, allowing you to view the event indirectly. During the last Seacoast partial eclipse, I made a box pinhole projector.
  • Solar Filters for Telescopes and Binoculars: If you plan to use telescopes, binoculars, or cameras, make sure to attach solar filters to the front of the optical device. Regular sunglasses are not sufficient for safe solar viewing.

Prime Locations for Totality in New England:

Totality- the moment when the sun is completely covered by the moon, is an experience of a lifetime. While complete totality will not be viewable on the Seacoast, we don’t need to drive very far to see it. Here are a few great options:

  • Houlton, Maine – Houlton is quite a drive, but it’s well worth it. This northern Maine town is hosting three days of astronomy events to mark the occasion. Check out the events on their awesome website!
  • Burlington, Vermont – The advantage of going to Burlington is there is a lot of lodging and dining options. That said, book your stay sooner rather than later! This bustling New England town has a website dedicated to the eclipse and events for visitors.
  • The Great North Woods, New Hampshire- Unlike Maine and Vermont, no New Hampshire towns have stepped up to “host” an eclipse event. The rural Great North Woods will fall in the line of totality – so Colebrook, Lancaster, Pittsburg, and Milan will all offer be great options. Visit NH has information on this event.
The path of totality will be from Texas to Maine for the April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse. Map courtesy of NASA. 

Partial Eclipse on the Seacoast:

For those along the Seacoast of New Hampshire and southern Maine, the eclipse will be partially visible. While not experiencing totality, residents can still enjoy an awesome spectacle. To make the most of the partial eclipse, consider visiting:

  • Hampton Beach, New Hampshire: The long stretch of Hampton Beach offers a great setting for watching the partial eclipse. Bring your solar viewing glasses and enjoy the eclipse with a backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Ogunquit, Maine: Ogunquit is a charming coastal town that will experience a partial eclipse. Find a spot along the Marginal Way or Perkins Cove and you’ll get a great view.
Even if you don’t make it to the far north, the partial eclipse is still an amazing site. This will be viewable (with safety glasses) on the Seacoast.

A Memorable Event for the Whole Family

The April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse is a rare opportunity to pause and be joined by awe and wonder. Whether you choose to journey to a location in totality or enjoy the partial eclipse on the Seacoast, remember to prioritize safety in your viewing methods. As the date gets closer, get your little one excited by reading space-themed books or getting outside to view the stars! With proper precautions and a sense of wonder, you can make the most of this cosmic spectacle and create memories that will last a lifetime. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here