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Utah will get front-row seat for eclipse in 2045

SALT LAKE CITY — Wyoming and Idaho are basking in the glory of the eclipsed sun this time around, while Utah has to settle for only a partial eclipse.

So it's a fair question: When will Utahns have a total solar eclipse of their own?

The answer: We'll have to wait awhile, but most of us should be alive to see it. Utah will have a front-row seat in 2045.

A total solar eclipse tends to turn people into eclipse nuts. If you're like many who traveled to the path of totality for the Great American Eclipse, you might already be looking ahead to your next eclipse-chasing adventure. So where and when do you go?

"You have another opportunity for a total solar eclipse in 2024," said Seth Jarvis, director of Clark Planetarium. "It kind of slices from Mexico through Canada."

You might call it the Great North American Eclipse. Less than seven years from now, you could go to Dallas or Cleveland or Montreal. But not Utah in 2024.

"Nothing in Utah," Jarvis said. "It's going to be another partial eclipse in Utah."

Things will be a bit more interesting in Utah just a few months before that. In October 2023, there's a type of eclipse called an "annular eclipse" that has central Utah on its glide path.

"It's going to scream along I-80 in Nevada," Jarvis said, "and then dive south through Fish Lake and Four Corners, and then go down to Texas."

But an annular eclipse is not a total eclipse. It occurs when the moon is a bit farther away than normal so it doesn't completely cover the disk of the sun. It leaves a ring of bright, dazzling fire around the eclipse, which is why this phenomenon is often called a "ring of fire" eclipse.

Utah experienced one in 2012 when an annular eclipse swept across I-15 just a few miles south of Cedar City.

If you want the real thing — a total solar eclipse like this year's Great American Eclipse — there's another one in 2045. On Aug. 12 that year, Utah will be right in the middle of the action.

"That's going to be a really big eclipse," Jarvis said, "because that's a deep eclipse where totality will last more than five minutes."

The path of totality will include Salt Lake City and Provo. With the centerline crossing I-15 right around Nephi, most of Utah's population should be able to observe the total eclipse all the way from North Salt Lake to Richfield and beyond.

"The totality will go all the way down to Arches National Park," Jarvis said. "So totality is going to be amazing in Utah, Aug. 12, 2045."

If you want to plan ahead, try to imagine how crowded it might be that day on the hiking trail to Utah's emblematic scenic attraction, Delicate Arch. Or perhaps you can imagine the traffic on I-15 somewhere around Bountiful. It's a good bet that just about everyone in Davis County will want to be in Salt Lake County that day for about five minutes.

After all, total eclipses are pretty rare in any particular place.

"An eclipse in any one hometown, like our hometown, the average time between them (is) 375 years," Jarvis said.

In other words, catch 'em while you can, even if you have to fight heavy traffic to do it.