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Preparing for the 2024 solar eclipse in South Carolina

Aubrey Gemignani

On Monday, April 8, the world will experience a solar eclipse. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a solar eclipse happens when, at just the right moment, the moon passes between the sun and the Earth.

According to Space, a total solar eclipse happens somewhere in the world around every 18 months.

NASA officials said the April 8 eclipse will pass over Mexico, the United States, and Canada, with totality starting over Mexico’s Pacific coast at around 11:07 a.m. PDT.

The most recent solar eclipse to affect South Carolina was in 2017. Before that, a solar eclipse covered the Palmetto State in 1979.

The upcoming eclipse will be less dramatic than the 2017 event, however. According to the SC State Museum Observatory, only about 75% of the sun will be covered by the moon in a partial solar eclipse. Museum officials said the maximum eclipse will approach after 3:00 p.m. with a slight change in light levels and shadows.

“If you didn't know a partial solar eclipse was happening in the afternoon you probably would have no way of telling,” said SC State Museum Planetarium Manager Liz Klimek.

The eclipse can been seen at the following time in various places throughout the state:

Sun Obstruction Start
1:49 p.m.
3:08 p.m.
4:23 p.m.
1:53 p.m.
3:10 p.m.
4:24 p.m.
1:52 p.m.
3:10 p.m.
4:25 p.m.
1:50 p.m.
3:09 p.m.
4:24 p.m.
Myrtle Beach
1:56 p.m.
3:13 p.m.
4:27 p.m.
1:51 p.m.
3:09 p.m.
4:25 p.m.
1:51 p.m.
3:09 p.m.
4:24 p.m.

In anticipation of the eclipse, multiple Upstate school districts are preparing for how learning hours will be affected. Abbeville County, Cherokee County, Greenville County, and all Spartanburg School Districts have issued mandatory e-learning days for their districts.

“The eclipse window coincides with our school dismissal times. With student safety being our top priority, the administration feels this is in the best interest of our students," the Abbeville County School District said in a statement. "Middle and high school athletic programs will not have outdoor activities or athletic practices until after 4:00 p.m. There will not be after-school activities for any of our primary, elementary, or middle schools.”

Upstate officials cite the overall safety of students for the reasoning for the e-learning day.

"The eclipse, which should last several hours, is expected to occur during afternoon dismissal times, potentially posing a safety risk to both students and staff. Furthermore, district leaders do not believe it is safe for school buses or student drivers to be on the roads during the height of the event,” Spartanburg School District 5 said in a statement.

Several schools in the Upstate will switch to early dismissals the day of the eclipse:

  • Greenwood School District 52 announced that primary & elementary students will be dismissed at 12:00 p.m., middle and high school students dismissed at 12:30 p.m., and teachers and teaching assistants will be dismissed at 1:30 p.m.
  • Laurens County School District 55 will have a two-hour early dismissal.
  • Laurens County School District 56 announced early dismissals; M.S. Bailey Child Development Center students being released at 11:30 a.m., elementary at 11:45 a.m. and middle/high school students at 12 p.m.

To view the partial eclipse, you must have proper eye protection. If you try to directly view the eclipse, it can cause permanent damage to the retinas of the eyes.
“Viewing any part of the sun through a camera lens, binoculars or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics will instantly cause severe eye injury,” NASA states.

The agency also provided the following guidelines for safe viewing:

  • View the sun through eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer during the partial eclipse phases before and after totality.
  • You can view the eclipse directly without proper eye protection only when the Moon completely obscures the sun’s bright face – during the brief and spectacular period known as totality. (You’ll know it’s safe when you can no longer see any part of the Sun through eclipse glasses or a solar viewer.)
  • As soon as you see even a little bit of the bright sun reappear after totality, immediately put your eclipse glasses back on or use a handheld solar viewer to look at the sun.
Marcus Flowers is an award-winning content producer who specializes in various topics.