April 13, 2024

Meet ‘Gen Eclipse,’ the young Americans prepared for eight total solar eclipses

It’s often said that only one in 10,000 people has ever experienced a total solar eclipse, but a group of young Americans are about to witness their second in their early twenties. And that’s just the beginning.

The U.S. is in a golden age of total solar eclipses — and young Americans who witnessed the 2017 “Great American Eclipse” as children are primed to experience totality again. The next one will take place on April 8, but beyond that there will be no fewer than 10 total solar eclipses in the US this century. For anyone born at the turn of the century and who lives to be 80, there will be seven total solar eclipses to experience. Welcome to the “Eclipse Generation”.

Lucky Generation

Ella Ross, 22, a filmmaker and multimedia editor from Philadelphia, is part of one of the luckiest generations of Americans when it comes to eclipses. Her story began in 2012, when she learned of a total solar eclipse that would occur in the US on August 21, 2017 – the first since 1979 – while taking an astronomy course at the local Strasenburgh Planetarium in Rochester, New York.

“I went home and told my mom that when I’m 16, I’m going to drive us wherever we need to go to see the eclipse,” she said in an interview. “Five years later, we drove 15 hours to Kimmswick, Missouri, and watched the eclipse from the side of a railroad track.” She describes a feeling of peace. “All the predictions were right, what everyone said about it was right – but I was seeing it and experiencing it,” she said. “It’s hard to describe it to people who haven’t experienced it.”

Deep Affection

The 2 minutes and 18 seconds of totality deeply affected the Ross family. On the long drive home, they discussed the fact that totality was reaching Rochester for 3 minutes and 38 seconds on April 8, 2024. Fast forward to today, Ella has just produced a 25-minute documentary, “The Path to the Path,” for the American Astronomical Society.

His mother, Debra Ross, spent much of her time as chair of the Rochester eclipse task force and co-chair of the AAS national Solar Eclipse task force. With her mother on the mic and Ella filming another documentary, they will witness totality again on April 8 at the Genesee Country Village & Museum in Mumford, near Rochester. “I would always be with my family in my hometown for this,” Ella said.

It probably won’t be the last time the duo celebrates totality together.

Eight Eclipses

Following the 2017 and 2024 total solar eclipses in the US, six more have been calculated through 2080:

  • March 30, 2033: Alaska (2 minutes and 37 seconds).
  • August 22-23, 2044: Montana and North Dakota (2 minutes and 4 seconds).
  • August 12, 2045: California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida (6 minutes and 6 seconds).
  • March 30, 2052: Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina (4 minutes and 8 seconds).
  • May 11, 2078: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina (5 minutes and 40 seconds).
  • May 1, 2079: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine (2 minutes and 55 seconds).

On the cusp

“Generation Eclipse” is on the cusp of something remarkable. “There’s so much excitement in my life about this that it feels like the world is going to end on April 9,” Ella said. It will be just the beginning, with the next U.S. total solar eclipse coming to Alaska in 2033. “I can do this — in the back of my mind I have this idea that I’m going to follow this and see what I can get out of it,” Ella said, who describes herself as a scientific storyteller. “I didn’t know it would become a big part of my life – it’s a beautiful thing to have the eclipse as something I will pursue in my life.”

European Experience

North America’s golden age of eclipses may seem unique, but Europe is way ahead. “The 1999 total solar eclipse across Europe triggered a whole generation of eclipse chasers and people interested in astronomy,” said Spain-based Graham Jones of Timeanddate. “I’m one of the oldest of the ‘1999 generation’ – that was my first whole.” On August 11, 1999, a path of totality crossed the United Kingdom, Central Europe, Turkey, the Middle East, Pakistan and India. At the time, it was one of the most watched in history. For the UK, it was the first total solar eclipse since 1927 and the last until 2090.

Spain’s ‘Eclipse Generation’

Since then, Jones has witnessed many total solar eclipses around the world, but the next one after April 8 will occur in Europe – the continent’s first in 27 years. On August 12, 2026, a path of totality will emerge across Greenland, western Iceland and northern Spain, narrowly missing Madrid and Barcelona but obscuring 15.2 million people in darkness, according to calculations. by Jones. “August 21, 2017 was a watershed moment for the US that inspired a generation of eclipse chasers – and 2026 could have the same impact,” he said.

Remarkably, the 2026 total solar eclipse is followed precisely 354 days (one lunar year) later, on August 2, 2027, when a path of totality will again pass through Spain, North Africa and the Middle East. An instantaneous “generational eclipse” is inevitable, not least because an annular solar eclipse – better known as the “ring of fire” – will hit Spain in 2028. Something similar will happen in Mexico, with three total solar eclipses in 26 years (2052). , 2071 and 2078).

A successful eclipse chaser typically requires knowledge, dedication, and resources to travel the world. Or you could just be born at the right time.

For the latest on the total solar eclipse – including travel and lodging options –check my main feed for new articles every day.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

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