Millions of people in Mexico, the United States and Canada may experience a total solar eclipse today. Such a celestial spectacle occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth and completely obscures the sun. NASA also calls it a “cosmic masterpiece.”

“Solar eclipses have a very special power,” NASA boss Bill Nelson said at a press conference. “They move people and give them a deep respect for the universe.”

Starting over the Pacific, the umbra extends over the north of Mexico, crosses the USA from Texas northeast to Maine, touches the southeast of Canada and ends over the North Atlantic. The spectacle mainly takes place in the afternoon (local time). Large cities such as Dallas, Indianapolis, Buffalo and Montreal are located in the zone, and a total of more than 30 million people live there. The last total solar eclipse was visible from the USA in 2017, from Mexico in 1991 and from Canada in 1979. The next one – after the one on April 8th – for the USA and Canada is only announced for 2044, for Mexico for 2052.

Partial solar eclipse in parts of Europe

The astronomical spectacle cannot be observed from Europe. A partial solar eclipse can only be seen on the western edge of the continent – for example in parts of Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Great Britain as well as in Iceland. The last time a total solar eclipse was observed in Germany was in August 1999; the next one will take place in September 2081.

Preparations on Earth for the spectacle in the sky have been going on for months: Parties for people to observe together are planned in many places, at which special glasses to protect the eyes will also be distributed free of charge. Numerous schools in districts from which the total solar eclipse can be viewed have announced that they will close on the day. In addition, millions of people who live elsewhere have booked trips. Hotels and holiday apartments in the areas with a total solar eclipse are fully booked in many places, and the authorities warn of very high traffic volumes.

However, the weather prospects are not particularly good. For the USA, the Weather Channel predicted clouds, in some cases even rain and storms, for many regions. In a smaller region in the northeast there are better chances of observing the spectacle, the weather station reported. In order to fully experience the total solar eclipse, a clear sky with a view of the moon and sun is necessary, writes NASA. However, the eerie darkness that comes with it during the day can also be noticed when the sky is cloudy.

Many scientists are also prepared. NASA observes, records and measures the solar eclipse using aircraft and balloons, among other things.