The best viewing sites will in out West like in Bryce Canyon Utah

By Eileen Ogintz
Tribune Content Agency

Got your special glasses ready?

On Oct. 14, 2023, an annular solar eclipse will create a “ring of fire” in the sky from Oregon to Texas. On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will darken the skies from Texas to Maine. On both dates, all 48 contiguous states in the U.S. will experience a partial solar eclipse (as will Mexico and most of Canada).

The 2024 solar eclipse is special because it will be visible to tens of millions of people in North America. The next total solar eclipse that will be widely viewable from North America won’t occur until 2045.

Solar eclipse
Solar eclipse

A NASA map, based on observations from several NASA missions, details the path of the moon’s shadow as it crossed the U.S. during the 2023 and 2024 eclipse, showing where you would need to be to see the “ring of fire” when the moon blocks all but the outer edge of the sun during the upcoming solar eclipse and when the moon completely blocks the sun’s disk during the total eclipse next year.

(Check out the NASA Kids page with lots of activities from building your own solar system to coloring books to even a solar system cookbook (Gummy Greenhouse Gases, perhaps?) San Francisco’s Exploratorium has also created some activities to give kids what they need to know about viewing and understanding eclipses. Check what programs and online activities your local science museum might be offering.

Why do you need special eclipse glasses? It is not safe to look directly at the sun without specialized eye protection for solar viewing.

Natural Arch, Bryce Canyon National Park
Natural Arch, Bryce Canyon National Park

Viewing 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 optics will instantly cause severe eye injury, NASA warns. When watching an annular solar eclipse directly with your eyes, you must look through safe solar viewing glasses (“eclipse glasses”) or a safe handheld solar viewer at all times. Eclipse glasses are NOT regular sunglasses; regular sunglasses, no matter how dark, are not safe for viewing the sun. Safe solar viewers are thousands of times darker and must comply with the ISO 12312-2 international standard.

The three states with the largest population inside the path of the annular solar eclipse are Texas, New Mexico, and Oregon, including the metropolitan areas of San Antonio, the biggest city in the path of the 2023 solar eclipse with the entire event visible from the city and many of its suburbs, while Corpus Christi, 130 miles southeast of San Antonio, is also a good bet. (Places to take the kids in San Antonio).

On the San Antonio Riverwalk
On the San Antonio Riverwalk

The path also crosses lightly populated areas of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado, plus a small corner of Idaho. Good places to watch the Oct. 14 eclipse include national parks (Crater Lake in Oregon’s Great Basin in Nevada; Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef in Utah, among them).

NASA says if you don’t have eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer, you can use an indirect viewing method, which does not involve looking directly at the sun. One way is to use a pinhole projector, which has a small opening (for example, a hole punched in an index card) and projects an image of the sun onto a nearby surface. With the sun at your back, you can then safely view the projected image. Do NOT look at the sun through the pinhole!

(You can make your own eclipse projector using a cardboard box, a white sheet of paper, tape, scissors, and aluminum foil. With the sun behind you, sunlight will stream through a pinhole punched into aluminum foil taped over a hole in one side of the box. During the partial phases of a solar eclipse, this will project a crescent sun onto a white sheet of paper taped to the inside of the box. Look into the box through another hole cut into the box to see the projected image.

It’s certainly not too soon to plan for the rare 2024 eclipse. Campspot, the leading booking site and app for private campgrounds, has noted a corresponding surge in searches and demand around next year’s total solar eclipse with searches up 703 percent and bookings up for the weekend of the eclipse already up over 40 percent. Check out Campspot’s specific eclipse page.

There are only inside cabins left on the special Princess Cruises Panama Canal itinerary aboard Emerald Princess in April 2024 that will give guests the rare opportunity to experience a complete solar eclipse at sea. The 3,080-passenger Emerald Princess will catch the total solar eclipse on April 8 between Cabo San Lucas and Huatulco, Mexico, with special safety glasses and an astronomy expert guiding the experience.

Grand Princess in San Francisco
Grand Princess in San Francisco

Cleveland will be in the path of totality for the solar eclipse – with more than three minutes of total darkness – making it the prime viewing location in the U.S. Cleveland has also been selected as an official NASA SunSpot for the event, locations along the eclipse path where the agency will participate in community events, offer eclipse-related programming, and interact with the public. Other cities include Kerrville, Texas, and Indianapolis.

Bandera and other neighboring Bandera County towns in Texas are well positioned for observing both eclipses — a three to four minutes of totality during the 2024 eclipse. One unique way to experience the eclipses (and take care of lodging, too) will be at the Four Sisters’ Ranch Eclipse UTOPIA festivals with camping, music and on-site eclipse viewing.

Paducah, a riverfront retreat in western Kentucky, will welcome visitors next April with an “X Marks the Spot” community event and watch party for locals and guests from across the country.

Happy (safe) viewing!

(For more Taking the Kids, visit and also follow TakingTheKids on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments. The fourth edition of The Kid’s Guide to New York City and the third edition of The Kid’s Guide to Washington D.C. are the latest in a series of 14 books for kid travelers published by Eileen.)

©2023 Eileen Ogintz. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.