Totality 2024 and How to Eclipse Safely

 April 15, 2024 by Margie Brenner

UVM Medical Center internal medicine residents watch the 2024 Solar Eclipse
UVM Medical Center internal medicine residents were among the thousands of solar eclipse fans who donned special protective glasses to observe this once-in-a-lifetime event in Burlington, which fell within the path of totality. Front Row, left to right: Sydney Ferrell, D.O., PGY-1, Aggie Forstein, M.D., PGY-1, April DeStefano, M.D., PGY-1. Back Row, left to right: Matt Ferrell, D.O., PGY-1, Amelia Winter, M.D., PGY-2, Massoud Saleki, M.D., PGY-3. (Photo: UVM Internal Medicine)

The skies were clear on Monday, April 8, 2024, and a reported 160,000 eclipse seekers made their way toward Burlington, Vermont. Fortunately, for most of the UVM community, one only had to step outside around 3:26 p.m. to view the unique spectacle of the total solar eclipse in the mid-afternoon. Like clockwork, spectators poured out of cars, homes, schools, hospitals, and offices to stare at the sky for a shared, once-in-a-lifetime moment.

According to NASA, a total solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun. As predicted, a total solar eclipse crossed Mexico, passed through the United States almost directly over Burlington, and then moved into Canada. The sky darkened over everyone in the path of totality for about three to three and a half minutes, as if it were dawn or dusk.

The next total solar eclipse that can be seen from the contiguous United States will be on August 23, 2044.

A composite image of the progression of a total solar eclipse in Dallas on April 8, 2024. NASA/Keegan Barber

Composite image of the total solar eclipse over Dallas, TX on April 8, 2024.
(Photo: NASA/Keegan Barber)

Dr. Philip Skidd discusses how solar eclipses affect vision with UVM Extension's show, Across the FenceTotal Eclipse Safety

For weeks leading up to the event, eclipse glasses were dispensed in the thousands around campus, and eclipse-watching safety information was shared around the globe by space agencies, scientists, and medical experts, including those right here at the University of Vermont.

In a recent video interview on UVM Extension’s production "Across the Fence," neuro-ophthalmologist Philip Skidd, M.D., associate professor of surgery, discussed the risks of viewing a total solar eclipse and shared advice from the medical community. Skidd described a condition called “eclipse retinopathy,” which can be caused by viewing a solar eclipse without proper eye protection. "There is no amount of staring at the sun that is advised or safe, and that’s why everybody I know is advocating for adequate protection," he said.

These moments of "safe viewing" were generously shared by the following UVM Medical Center residency program instagram accounts:


Eclipse Chaser Globe Trotting

Those who developed umbraphilia—the love of eclipses (or literally, the love of moon shadows)—are in luck. NASA's website reports that a total eclipse happens about every year and a half somewhere on Earth. Since the wait for the next solar eclipse over Vermont is 82 years, upcoming viewings of totality may require a passport. According to Danielle Dowling’s recent New York Times article "Fjords, Pharaohs, or Koalas? Time to Plan for Your Next Eclipse," there are three chances over the next four years to see the moon block out the sun in totality around the world: August 12, 2026, over the skies of Greenland, Iceland, and Spain; August 2, 2027, rising above North Africa, Egypt, and the Arabian Peninsula; and July 22, 2028, passing over Australia and New Zealand.

If a viewing in the U.S. is preferred, the next totality zone shows up in August 2044 over Montana and North Dakota. Regardless of the encounter, the rich resources provided to the public in the past month can help everyone feel more prepared for safer eclipse viewing, no matter where on the planet one roams to catch a cosmic glimpse of the magical "black sun."

For more about the UVM experience on April 8, 2024, and safe viewing resources, visit UVM's eclipse information webpage

UVM Students Watch the 2024 Solar Eclipse

UVM students gather on campus to watch the April 8, 2024 solar eclipse
(Photo: Joshua Defibaugh)