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On Monday, April 8, we’re all going to be in the dark. But don’t worry, it won’t last long and it won’t be pitch black. Parts of the country are preparing for a total solar eclipse which will occur on that day and can be viewed by millions in Mexico, 15 states, and Canada. It’s a big deal with some Hattiesburg businesses planning special events. Some people are even driving to areas such as Arkansas or Missouri, where there will be a total eclipse.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and earth. During the eclipse, which begins about 12:33 p.m., will peak a little after 1:53 p.m., and end around 3:11 p.m., the Pine Belt should be in about 80 to 83 percent darkness. Only within the path of totality, which is 100 to 123 miles wide, will a totally eclipsed sun be visible. In those locations with complete totality it will seem like dawn or dusk.

This will be the third solar eclipse in the past seven years with others occurring August 2017, October 2023, and now April 2024. According to timeanddate.com, the next viewable total solar eclipse for North America won’t be until August 23, 2044.

Because the April eclipse will pass through more populated parts of the country, more than 30 million people will be in the path of April’s total eclipse. That means about one in 10 Americans will be able to view it.

A solar eclipse in 2017 sent Mississippians to spots around the country to see it in its totality, but the totality will last a little longer this time. Because the Moon lies a little closer to Earth during this eclipse, it will appear just a bit larger in the sky. That means it will take the Moon a bit longer to move in its orbit across the face of the sun, which is 93 million miles from Earth.

For those wanting to view the eclipse, you need to take special precautions. Exposing your eyes to the sun without proper eye protection during a solar eclipse can cause retinal burns or solar retinopathy. The retina has no sensitivity to pain, and since the effects of retinal damage may not appear for hours, there is no warning that an injury to your eye has occurred.

Do NOT look at the sun through a camera lens, binoculars, telescope, or any other

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