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March 12 Moon Simulates April 8 Sun

You can simulate the eclipsed sun's location on April 8 by looking at the thin crescent moon the evening of Tuesday, March 12, 2024. The moon gives a preview of where the eclipse will occur; additionally, for observers just outside the path of totality, the March 12 crescent moon anticipates the shape of the sun at maximum eclipse.


For example, near South Bend, IN, on March 12, 2024, at 5:20 p.m. EDT, look toward the southwest to find a thin crescent moon. It's azimuth and altitude (i.e., compass heading is 215 degrees and angular height above the horizon is 55 degrees) are within a few degrees of where the maximum eclipse will occur on April 8 (azimuth=214 degrees and altitude=51 degrees) at 3:09:28 PM.


Thin crescent moon above and left of sun on March 12, 2024, at 5:20 PM; looking southwest from South Bend, IN..

Simulated thin crescent moon.
Moon on March 12, 2024, at 5:20 PM: illuminated 9%.

Now compare the sliver of moon from March 12 at 5:20 PM with the location (and shape if you're near the path of totality) of the sun on April 8 at 3:09 PM. Here is a South Bend maximum eclipse simulation from https://eclipse2024.org/simvideos/table.html.


Eclipsed crescent sun on April 8 at 3:09 PM; looking southwest from South Bend, IN.

If you observe from east of South Bend, maximum eclipse occurs later, so the eclipsed sun will be a little right of the March 12 crescent. If you are west of South Bend, your maximum eclipse will be seen left of the March 12 moon. Notice that if your view of the moon is obstructed March 12 at 5:20 PM, your view of maximum eclipse will likely be obstructed April 8 from that same location.


The waxing crescent moon above and to the east of the sun is illuminated about 9% the evening of March 12. However, the partially eclipsed sun as seen from South Bend will be just over 3% illuminated--a third the size of this moon! Nonetheless, when the sun is covered over 96% (the South Bend example) it is still too bright to look at with the naked eye.


You must use protective eyewear for the entire duration of a partial eclipse. At no time is it safe to look at a partially eclipsed sun.


To find the eclipse circumstances for any other location on April 8, 2024, including the amount the sun will be obscured by the moon, see Xavier Jubier's interactive Google map.


BONUS


Since you're observing the moon on Tuesday, March 12, after sunset look up and left about a fist's width to see bright Jupiter. The following evening, March 13, the moon will be right next to Jupiter--a beautiful pair in the west.


March 12 crescent moon with Jupiter above and left


March 12 crescent moon next to Jupiter

For comparison, on April 8 brilliant Venus will have moved into this area of the sky and may be visible even when the sun remains partially illuminated. If the sky darkens like twilight, look down and right of the sun-moon combo. For people seeing totality, you also should see Jupiter high and left of the sun-moon combo. Oh, yeah!



April 8 eclipsed sun with Jupiter and Venus nearby

I'm human. Fact-check me.




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