🎉 Shop new curriculum now and save 25%!

What is an Eclipse?

Tabitha Ludwiczak|April 1, 2024

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  —Genesis 1:1

If you’ve turned on the news lately, you may have heard that a total solar eclipse will take place on April 8, 2024. Well, while we are all familiar with our Earth, moon, and sun, every now and then, they line up in a special way that causes us to pause, look up, and enjoy a show so spectacular that only God’s hand could have put it into motion.

In a partial eclipse, the edge of the Moon is still visible, and the moon covers up most of our Sun in an annular eclipse, but in a Total Solar Eclipse, like the one occurring on April  8th, 2024, the moon passes through the space between the Earth and the sun at an angle that obscures the Sun from our view on Earth.

Types of Eclipses - NASA
Types of Eclipses – NASA

Total solar eclipses are the rarest astronomical events we can experience. It has to do with the alignment and the degrees in which the moon orbits the Earth. According to NASA, “The Moon’s orbit is tilted by about 5 degrees compared to Earth’s orbit around the Sun.” This is why we don’t see them very often. The next total solar eclipse is not predicted to occur for another 20 years.

Make sure you find the time to go outside and enjoy this special event created by God! —Damian Ludwiczak, Exploring Creation with High School Astronomy

Solar Eclipse vs. Lunar Eclipse

Many people confuse the two types of eclipses. The difference is that in a lunar eclipse, the Earth is between the Sun and the Moon, causing the Earth’s shadow to cover the Moon or make the Moon’s surface look red.

Solar Eclipse Diagram
NASA Solar Eclipse Diagram

What will this Total Solar Eclipse Look Like and Can I See It?

If you live in any of the areas listed below in the chart, found on the NASA website, you are lucky enough to be in the area of totality for the 2024 Total Solar EclipseYou may want to mark your calendars now to make sure you plan to get a glimpse of this rare occurrence. During the solar eclipse’s path through your state, you can expect the sky to darken, almost as if it became dusk or night in the middle of the day! Imagine looking up into the sky and seeing the sun turn black!

NASA- Total Solar Eclipse 2017
This is a NASA photo of the 2017 total eclipse.

If you won’t be in any of the cities listed below, there’s still plenty to witness. NASA will live stream the solar eclipse from 1:00 to 4:00 pm EDT.

For a really special viewing, you can book a ticket on Delta Airlines. Delta has specifically chosen a flight at this time to give passengers the most optimal viewing experience of the eclipse. Flight 1218 from Austin, Texas, to Detroit, Michigan, will take place on a special aircraft with extra-large windows that will offer premium viewing. You can also find more flight options from Delta that will still offer a great view

Partial Begins
Totality Begins
Totality Ends
Partial Ends
Dallas, Texas
12:23 p.m. CDT
1:40 p.m. CDT
1:42 p.m. CDT
1:44 p.m. CDT
3:02 p.m. CDT
Idabel, Oklahoma
12:28 p.m. CDT
1:45 p.m. CDT
1:47 p.m. CDT
1:49 p.m. CDT
3:06 p.m. CDT
Little Rock, Arkansas
12:33 p.m. CDT
1:51 p.m. CDT
1:52 p.m. CDT
1:54 p.m. CDT
3:11 p.m. CDT
Poplar Bluff, Missouri
12:39 p.m. CDT
1:56 p.m. CDT
1:56 p.m. CDT
2:00 p.m. CDT
3:15 p.m. CDT
Paducah, Kentucky
12:42 p.m. CDT
2:00 p.m. CDT
2:01 p.m. CDT
2:02 p.m. CDT
3:18 p.m. CDT
Carbondale, Illinois
12:42 p.m. CDT
1:59 p.m. CDT
2:01 p.m. CDT
2:03 p.m. CDT
3:18 p.m. CDT
Evansville, Indiana
12:45 p.m. CDT
2:02 p.m. CDT
2:04 p.m. CDT
2:05 p.m. CDT
3:20 p.m. CDT
Cleveland, Ohio
1:59 p.m. EDT
3:13 p.m. EDT
3:15 p.m. EDT
3:17 p.m. EDT
4:29 p.m. EDT
Erie, Pennsylvania
2:02 p.m. EDT
3:16 p.m. EDT
3:18 p.m. EDT
3:20 p.m. EDT
4:30 p.m. EDT
Buffalo, New York
2:04 p.m. EDT
3:18 p.m. EDT
3:20 p.m. EDT
3:22 p.m. EDT
4:32 p.m. EDT
Burlington, Vermont
2:14 p.m. EDT
3:26 p.m. EDT
3:27 p.m. EDT
3:29 p.m. EDT
4:37 p.m. EDT
Lancaster, New Hampshire
2:16 p.m. EDT
3:27 p.m. EDT
3:29 p.m. EDT
3:30 p.m. EDT
4:38 p.m. EDT
Caribou, Maine
2:22 p.m. EDT
3:32 p.m. EDT
3:33 p.m. EDT
3:34 p.m. EDT
4:40 p.m. EDT
NASA 2024 Solar Eclipse map
NASA 2024 Solar Eclipse map

Umbra and Penumbra

As the eclipse moves, there are two key terms to remember. They are the Umbra and the Penumbra. They are both shadows of the Moon that occur during an eclipse. The Umbra occurs when the Moon goes away from the Sun, getting smaller and smaller as time passes. The Umbra is what we usually think of during an eclipse, as it is the dark center of the Moon’s shadow that occurs during an eclipse. The Penumbra, however, gets larger as it moves away from the Sun as time passes during the eclipse.

Simulate an Umbra and Penumbra

Let’s do an experiment to simulate what an Umbra and a Penumbra look like. 

  • A small round object 
  • A string 
  • A flashlight 
  • A globe (optional) 
  • A dark room 
  • A flat surface, like a wall 
  • A friend 
  • First, tie the string around your round object so it can hang while you hold the string.
  • Next, turn off all lights and close all curtains so the room is dark. 
  • Have a friend turn on the flashlight and shine it toward the round object hanging from the string. (Do not shine the light in the other person’s eyes!)
  • Take a look at the shadows being cast on the flat surface. Do you see a really dark shadow in the middle and a lighter shadow around it? If you are having trouble, move the flashlight closer to the round object. 

 Try moving your flashlight or the round object back and forth to see if the shadows change. You can also do this experiment with the ball in front of a globe, creating your own eclipse! If you use the globe method, try to make your hometown experience a total solar eclipse.


While a total solar eclipse may sound super cool to see with our own eyes, it’s important to be aware of the necessary safety measures so everyone can marvel at God’s creation in a safe, fun way.

  1. DO NOT look at the eclipse with your naked eye, including regular sunglasses, as they will not work. While the sky may get dark, the Sun’s rays will peek out from behind the Moon. We wouldn’t want to stare up at the Sun in the middle of the day, so we should use the same precautions during any type of eclipse, including looking at the eclipse with a camera or telescope or even viewing it from inside an airplane. You can purchase special eclipse glasses, or you can make your own eclipse viewing box using the activity in Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd edition textbook.
    • If you decide to purchase eclipse glasses, be very careful to make sure they will work as advertised. You can tell if your solar eclipse glasses are safe by checking them inside before the big day. If you put your glasses on and look at a lamp inside your home, specifically one with a lampshade, and you can see either light behind the lampshade or the lightbulb through your glasses, they are NOT strong enough to protect your eyes during an eclipse.
  2. Stay inside your own homes, if you can, as there is expected to be higher traffic and tourists coming into areas where this eclipse can be seen. If you are traveling outside of your own home, be sure to keep your eyes on your surroundings and be careful of where you are as you look at the eclipse.

Make your own Eclipse Safety Viewing Device

  • Cardboard box 
  • White sheet of paper 
  • Markers (optional) 
  • Pin or needle 
  • Tape 
  • Scissors 
  • Aluminum foil
  1. Cut a viewing hole on one side of your cardboard box. 
  2. Cut a hole in the center of one end of your cardboard box. This will be the side of your pinhole. 
  3. Over the hole you just cut, place a piece of aluminum foil. 
  4. Using your pin or needle, poke a small hole in the aluminum foil. Don’t worry about it being too small; you are not going to be looking through this hole. It’s there to allow sunlight to enter the box. 
  5. Place your piece of white paper on the opposite side of the pinhole inside the box.
  6. To see the eclipse, point the side of your cardboard box with the pinhole toward the Sun until you can see a round image on the piece of white paper. 
  7. If you would like, you can decorate the outside of your box with markers to highlight this special occasion! Just be careful not to color the white paper or the pinhole! 

Expand your knowledge

Learn more about space in Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd edition by Jeannie Fulbright, Exploring Creation with Earth Science by Rachael Yunis, and  Exploring Creation with High School Astronomy by Damian Ludwiczak.

You can also download our FREE ebook, A Day with Two Dawns, for more learning and activities surrounding the solar eclipse.

A Day with Two Dawns eBook

Download eBook