Why New Orleans is expected to miss rare upcoming total solar eclipse

3 years ago The Times-Picayune 0

For the first time in nearly 100 years, a total eclipse of the sun will be visible coast-to-coast across the United States as the moon-shrouded sun passes from Oregon to South Carolina on Aug. 21, according to NASA. One of the world’s rarest natural events, complete solar eclipses draw crowds due to their strange beauty — but New Orleans will be out of luck this time around.

While New Orleanians may be able to catch a partial eclipse from their hometown, a full black-out will elude them. That’s because the city doesn’t lie within the path where the deepest, darkest shadow will cast from the moon as it covers the sun.

To get technical: Only people in certain areas within the line of “totality,” under which the moon’s “umbral” — or inner — shadow is cast, will be able to view the total eclipse. That line runs from the northwestern portion of the country down to Charleston, S.C., missing New Orleans by hundreds of miles.

Still, distance isn’t expected to keep large out-of-town crowds from showing up in places where the moon’s umbral shadow falls. And New Orleans is in luck, somewhat, because the longest duration of the eclipse will be experienced in Hopkinsville, Ky. — about a day’s ride away at roughly 600 miles from New Orleans.

If eclipse day-tripping isn’t your thing, a partial eclipse may be seen in New Orleans for about three hours on Aug. 21, with the sun at its darkest point around 1:30 p.m. That’s all depending on the weather, of course.

And Aug. 21 won’t be the last time a total solar eclipse crosses the U.S., although the opportunity won’t come until 2024 and will still occur far from New Orleans. Indeed, the closest a total eclipse is expected to approach New Orleans may not happen until 2078.

  • Read more about the Aug. 21 eclipse on NASA’s website here.