BUFFALO, N.Y. (WETM) – The next total solar eclipse isn’t coming for almost two years, but its extremely narrow path of totality will pass right through Western New York. Here’s how to watch it:

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and casts a shadow on the Earth. The moon is always revolving around the Earth and passing between it and the Sun. However, during an eclipse, the three are lined up just right that the moon will cast a narrow shadow across a portion of the Earth’s surface.

There are four types of solar eclipses: Total, Annular, Partial and Hybrid.

NASA explains that a total solar eclipse happens when the moon completely blocks the face of the Sun. During the time of totality, viewers can take off their eclipse glasses. The sky will get dark, and the outer atmosphere of the Sun (the corona) will be visible around the moon.

An annular solar eclipse happens when the moon passes directly between the Earth and Sun, but when it’s at its farthest point from the Earth. This means that while it will line up directly, it doesn’t cover the sun completely and appears smaller than the sun. This leaves a bright ring of light around the moon. The next annular eclipse in the U.S. will pass through the Southwest on October 14, 2023.

Anyone not in the path of totality of an annular or total eclipse will only see a partial eclipse during which the moon only covers a portion of the sun.

NASA also said that a solar eclipse can shift between annular and total as the shadow moves across the Earth. This creates a hybrid solar eclipse.

When will the next Total Solar Eclipse happen?

There will be a hybrid eclipse in the spring of 2023 Southeast Asia and Australia, but the next total solar eclipse will start in the South Pacific Ocean in the morning on April 8, 2024. According to NASA, the moon’s shadow will make landfall on the west coast of Mexico around 11:07 a.m. and will make its way northeast.

The partial eclipse will begin in Buffalo, N.Y. just after 2:00 p.m., and totality will begin around 3:18 p.m. Cities like Erie, Pa., Buffalo, and Rochester will be almost in the center of the path of totality.

The Southern Tier will be just outside of the path of totality, resulting in a sun that is almost completely covered by the moon with just a sliver of light on the edge. NASA has tips on how best to watch the eclipse with or without glasses.

Path of totality for the April 8, 2024 eclipse/Image: NASA

Totality will reach its peak in Buffalo around 3:20 and will end two minutes later.

The shadow’s path will continue northeast until it leaves North America on the coast of Newfoundland around 5:16 p.m.

What if I miss it?

The Natural History Museum in London says that a solar eclipse happens about every 18 months. However, seeing a total eclipse firsthand is rare because the path of totality is so narrow. The NHM said that a total solar eclipse will happen about once every 400 years in the same place. Lunar eclipses, on the other hand, cover huge areas of Earth’s surface

The next time a solar eclipse of any type will pass over the Northeastern United States will be January 14, 2029. However, this eclipse will only be a partial eclipse.

The other closest option to see a solar eclipse will be the October 14, 2023 annular eclipse that will pass through the Southwest U.S. and into Central and South America.