Solar Eclipse of April 8, 2024/Erev Rosh Chodesh Nissan 5784: STAR-K presents 10 Common Questions & Answers by Rabbi Dovid Heber


1.           Q. What is a total solar eclipse?

A.           A total solar eclipse is when the moon totally blocks the sun, turning the sun dark during the middle of the day, making the stars easily visible. The corona (the sun’s outer atmosphere that normally cannot be seen) is also visible and appears as a pearly glow around the dark side of the moon that covers the sun.

2.           Q. When will it occur?

A.           It will occur this Monday, Erev Rosh Chodesh Nissan, April 8, 2024. The exact time will depend on one’s location. The maximum amount of totality in any one location will be 4 minutes and 28 seconds.

3.           Q. From where can one view the total eclipse?

A.           The total eclipse will be visible along a narrow band through Central Mexico, then from Texas (at approximately 1:30 p.m. CDT) to Maine (about one hour later at approximately 3:30 p.m. EDT) and then throughout East Canada. Major metropolitan areas in this path include Dallas, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo, Rochester, and Montreal. The eclipse will also pass within an hour of St. Louis, Detroit, and Toronto.

4.           Q. What if it’s cloudy?

A.           If it is cloudy, it will still get dark, but most of the other fascinating aspects of this experience, including watching the moon slowly cover the sun and viewing the sun’s corona around the sun during totality, will not be possible.

5.           Q. What is a partial solar eclipse and from where will it be visible?

A.           A partial solar eclipse is when the moon covers only part of the sun, during which time there are darker conditions; a partially blocked sun is visible. This eclipse will be at least partially visible from any state in the Continental United States. For example, New York City will see a partial eclipse (about 90% of the sun will be blocked) that will peak at 3:25 p.m.

6.           Q. Is it dangerous to view a solar eclipse? How does one protect himself?

A.           Yes! It is always dangerous to look at the sun. This is true even when it is partially covered. Looking at the sun without proper protection can, chalilah, cause permanent eye damage and even blindness r”l. This point cannot be stressed enough. The only time during an eclipse that it is safe to look at the event is during totality, when the sun is totally covered and only the sun’s corona (the outer circumference surrounding the sun) is visible. One should use special “eclipse glasses” (not regular sunglasses) from a certified and reputable source. Be sure that they are not scratched or damaged. Use these filtered shades during the entire partial phase, both before and after totality. If one is in an area where only the partial eclipse is visible, these special glasses must be used the entire time while viewing the event.

7.           Q. What is a lunar eclipse?

A.           A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth is situated directly between the sun and the moon, and the earth blocks the sunlight from reaching the moon. The shadow of the earth covers the moon, so that the full moon becomes darkened in the night sky.

8.           Q. Is a brocha recited on an eclipse?

A.           No. Although a brocha is recited on other niflaos haBorei, such as an earthquake, thunder, and lightning, a brocha is not recited upon viewing a solar or lunar eclipse.

9.           Q. What other inyonei halacha and hashkafah are discussed in relationship to an eclipse?

A.           The Gemara (Sukkah 29a) has various memros regarding eclipses. The Gemara states that a solar eclipse is a siman ra l’ovdei kochavim and a lunar eclipse is a siman ra lesoneihem shel Yisroel (a euphemism for Klal Yisroel). The Gemara continues, explaining that when Klal Yisroel does the retzono shel Makom (the will of Hashem), we have nothing to be afraid of. The Bais Yosef (Orach Chaim 426) addresses the impact of a lunar eclipse at the latest time to recite Kiddush Levanah and how a solar eclipse does not have the same impact. The Chovos Halevavos (Cheshbon Hanefesh 3:23) mentions how lunar and solar eclipses are great niflaos haBorei (wonders of our Creator). Rabbi Shmuel Pliskin zt”l, a talmid of the yeshiva in Radin, in an article published in the monthly Eretz Yisroel Torah journal titled Bais Yaakov (Elul 5722/1962, page 13) indicates the following. The Chofetz Chaim instructed the residents of Radin to view a solar eclipse (that occurred in Radin) to see how the Ribono Shel Olam momentarily extinguishes the koach of the mighty sun (which is worshipped by some nations as avodah zarah). He goes on to describe how everyone gathered with the Chofetz Chaim to view this great event.

10.               Q. When will the next total solar and lunar eclipses be visible in the Continental    United States?

A.           The next total solar eclipse visible in the Continental United States will occur more than 20 years from now, on August 22, 2044, on Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul 5804. In the United States, totality will only be visible in Montana and North Dakota. The following year, on Shabbos, Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5785/2045, there will be another total eclipse visible across the United States in a narrow path from California to Florida. Other parts of the world will experience a total solar eclipse sooner. In 2026 there will be a total solar eclipse visible from Portugal, in 2027 an eclipse will be visible from Spain, and in 2028/5788 a solar eclipse will be visible in Australia, passing directly over Sydney on Shabbos afternoon, 28 Tammuz/July 22. The next total lunar eclipse visible in the Continental United States will occur next year on Purim night 5785, Thursday night/Friday morning, March 13th and 14th, 2025. May we be zoche to greet Moshiach before these times.


For a webinar on the eclipse click here


For a recorded shiur click here