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A total solar eclipse is on its way to North America

The moon covers the sun during a total solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, in Cerulean, Ky. On April 8, 2024   -  
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Timothy D. Easley/AP

Solar eclipse

On April 8, a spectacular natural phenomenon will take place in the skies over North America.

It's a total solar eclipse, with the Moon perfectly aligned with the Earth and the Sun. On the day of the eclipse, the Moon will be only 360,000 kilometers from the Earth. Thanks to this proximity, the moon will appear slightly larger in the sky.

"Nowhere else in our solar system, to our knowledge, is the moon large enough to block the exact surface of the sun," explains Kelly Korreck, head of NASA's eclipse program.

Fifteen U.S. states will be able to view the eclipse, but two of them - Tennessee and Michigan - will be able to see it just barely. Cities that will be in the thick of the action include Dallas, Little Rock, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo and Montreal - the largest crowds in eclipse history on the continent. The luckiest cities will be plunged into darkness for more than 4 minutes.

The further away from the total eclipse trajectory, the more partial it will be. In Seattle and Portland, Oregon, about the furthest away from the continental USA, a third of the sun will be covered.