Did the 2024 solar eclipse path change? What it means for April 8


A rare total solar eclipse will cut a 115-mile-wide path April 8 across North America, but less than a week before it happens, new research suggests fewer Hoosiers could experience the totality because previous 2024 eclipse maps are wrong — though not by much.

Despite these findings, NASA told IndyStar in an email that its predictions for the eclipse have not changed — and, added Butler University Physics & Astronomy professor Brian Murphy, the new map won’t make a huge difference for the millions of Hoosiers watching the eclipse.

“The path of totality might have narrowed, maybe by a mile total, but we’re talking about going from 115 miles to 114 miles wide,” Murphy said. “If you’re near the edge of that path, go a few miles further into the center at the very least to ensure you see the totality.”

Here’s what we know about the new eclipse path and why it matters.

The eclipse is one week away! What to know on solar glasses, time, Indiana path of totality

Has the 2024 solar eclipse path changed?

Several media reports Tuesday and Wednesday have called into question the forecast for the 2024 solar eclipse path, or where the moon’s shadow will pass over the Earth when the moon partially blocks out the Sun. The projected path might be off by as much as a mile, according to John Irwin.

Irwin, who calculates solar eclipse data for the blogsite Besselian Elements, released a newly updated forecast for the eclipse path. As first reported by Forbes, Irwin’s findings show hundreds of towns and cities across Mexico, North America, and Canada have lost their solar eclipse.

Indiana cities affected by Irwin’s findings include Kokomo, Frankfort and parts of Crawfordsville.

Why did the eclipse map change?

In short, the map changed because of how Irwin and others have calculated the size of the Sun, which might be slightly larger than what scientists thought.

Alex Young of NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center recently told Astronomy publication EarthSky that he and other researchers spotted differences between the actual and predicted path of the total solar eclipse that crossed North America in 2017, prompting a change in creating a new eclipse map for 2024.

The updated solar eclipse map by Irwin and Besselian Elements, according to Forbes, factors in the exact topography of both the moon and the Earth to create “a more accurate eclipse map” using new information about the Sun.

How accurate in the new eclipse map?

The members of Besselian Elements on their official Facebook page describe themselves as “a team of dedicated amateur astronomers, passionate about solar eclipses.” Their findings, according to a recent article on Space.com, have yet to be peer-reviewed, so take them with a grain of salt.

What does this mean for Indiana?

NASA told IndyStar the new eclipse map will affect cities on the very edge of the path of totality, where predicting how long the eclipse will last is difficult no matter what. A difference of a few city blocks one way or the other, NASA said, could mean 20, 10, or 0 seconds of totality.

Experts are urging people living along the edge of the eclipse path to play it safe if they want to watch the total eclipse by moving closer to the center of the totality, which Murphy echoed to IndyStar.

“Don’t stay right at the edge,” Murphy said. “Get a few miles in to guarantee at least 10 to 30 seconds of the totality,” which the new eclipse map shows has shifted further away from Indiana cities like Kokomo, Frankfort, Crawfordsville and Fort Wayne.

New map shows eclipse path shifts further away from Kokomo

Much of Frankfort loses out on path of total solar eclipse

Some Indiana State Parks might be affected by the new eclipse map

Many Hoosiers are expected to flock Monday to Indiana State Parks, which have hundreds of campsites across DNR properties to enjoy the total solar eclipse. The updated map means some of these parks could see less of the totality, such as Turkey Run State Park southwest of Crawfordsville. Nonetheless, many of the facilities at Turkey Run — its nature center, playground and picnic areas — are still within the path of totality even with the shift in the map.

Solar eclipse map: Updated path of totality for Indiana

How to interpret the updated 2024 solar eclipse map

The yellow line of the map is the center of the totality, which for Indiana, means the eclipse will now pass almost directly over Vincennes, Bloomington, Bloomfield and Franklin.

The red line is the original eclipse path while the three orange lines, according to Irwin, show the outer limits of where Hoosiers can expect to find 100% darkness. Those wanting to experience that 100% darkness should view the eclipse from somewhere within the innermost orange lines.

What time does solar eclipse 2024 viewing start in Indiana

What time will the partial solar eclipse 2024 start in Indianapolis?

The solar eclipse’s partial phase will begin at approximately 1:50 p.m. ET, April 8 in Indianapolis, according to eclipse2024.org.

Others are reading: The dinosaurs at Indy’s Children’s Museum have solar glasses. Do you? How to get them

John Tufts covers trending news for the Indianapolis Star. Send him a news tip at [email protected]. Follow him on X at @JTuftsReports.

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