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Eclipse Island, Moon Beach: These places on the solar eclipse path have the perfect names

Major U.S. cities on the total eclipse path of totality like Cleveland and San Antonio are sure to draw huge crowds on April 8 eager to bear witness to the rare celestial event.

But wouldn't you rather be in a place such as, say, Eclipse Island, Moon Beach or Sun Valley when the moon passes in front of the sun and ushers in uncharacteristic darkness?

Hundreds of cities comprised of even more smaller locales like neighborhoods, unincorporated communities and wedding venues fall along the projected path of totality when the eclipse will sweep from southwest to northeast across North America. Eclipse cartographer Michael Zeiler at GreatAmericanEclipse.com combed through a database to find all those places on the path of totality with an eclipse-themed name.

Eclipse cartographer Michael Zeiler at GreatAmericanEclipse.com put together this map showing places he discovered on or near the April 8 path of totality that seem to be appropriately-named.
Eclipse cartographer Michael Zeiler at GreatAmericanEclipse.com put together this map showing places he discovered on or near the April 8 path of totality that seem to be appropriately-named.

While at least one was named specifically for its connection to historical eclipses, it's likely that most have been named purely by happenstance.

Here's a look at some of the places noted by Zeiler, who shared his findings with USA TODAY.

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Eclipse Island named by Captain Cook

Of all the places Zeiler found with names related to the eclipse, he said the most interesting is Eclipse Island in the Canadian province of Newfoundland.

The name is no accident.

Capt. James Cook, the famed British explorer, came up with the designation after observing an annular solar eclipse, known as a "ring of fire," at the location on Aug. 5, 1766. Located very near the path of annularity, the island proved a useful place to observe the eclipse, which at the time was a means for cartographers like Cook to establish the longitude of a particular location, Zeiler said in an email to USA TODAY.

It's not the only major astronomical observation for which Cook is known.

The naval officer also commanded an expedition that helped to make an early estimate of the sheer scale of our solar system. During a 1769 voyage to the Pacific Ocean, Cook's team observed the transit of the planet Venus across the sun to determine the distance of Earth from the sun, Zeiler said.

There is also an Eclipse Island in Australia, but it is not on the 2024 path.

Delicate streamers in the sun's corona surround the totally eclipsed sun during the Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse. Observers along a narrow track from Mexico to Maine should have a similar view on April 8, 2024.
Delicate streamers in the sun's corona surround the totally eclipsed sun during the Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse. Observers along a narrow track from Mexico to Maine should have a similar view on April 8, 2024.

Other eclipse-named places in the path of totality

All told, Zeiler found 16 appropriately-named places – including towns, neighborhoods and even a wedding venue – directly on the eclipse' April 8 path in Mexico, the United States and Canada. Dozens more are located outside of it across North America.

Note that some of these places are relatively small and obscure, with a few showing no signs of buildings or even a local population. Still, the names are fitting for such an event.

  • Luna, Texas: An apparently now-defunct settlement that by the late 1980s had only a few houses and a cemetery remaining, according to the Texas Almanac.

  • Shadowland, Texas: What once may have once been a summer home of a family with several thousand acres of cotton near Red River county.

  • Sun Valley, Texas: A small northwestern city in Lamar County.

  • Moon, Oklahoma: A neighborhood in McCurtain County in the southeastern corner of the state.

  • Sun Terrace Cove, Arkansas: A residential street in Cabot.

  • Luna, Missouri: An extinct town in Ozark County.

  • Corona, Missouri: An unincorporated community in Oregon County.

  • Sun Valley, Ohio: A wedding and events venue in Geauga County, just east of Cleveland.

  • Luna Pier, Michigan: A city in Monroe County just north of Toledo, Ohio.

  • Moon Beach, New York: A neighborhood in Sterling, 60 miles east of Rochester.

Outside of the U.S., Zeiler also found Half Moon Pit in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, as well as four places in Mexico: Villa Corona and Corona del Valle in Durango; and El Sol and Mota de Corona in Coahuila.

If you want to see the time and duration for when totality would occur near each of these locations, see these interactive maps.

What to know about the total solar eclipse

The Great American Eclipse, the first of its kind since 2017, will chart a path of totality April 8 along a southwest-to-northeast line through North America.

In the U.S. alone, an estimated 31 million Americans already live along the eclipse's 115-mile path of totality cutting through 13 states.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett watches for the total solar eclipse in 2017 during a watch party in Tennessee.
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett watches for the total solar eclipse in 2017 during a watch party in Tennessee.

Any celestial object like a moon or a planet that passes between two other bodies can create an eclipse by obscuring the view of objects like the sun. In the event of a solar eclipse, the moon comes in between the Earth and the sun, blocking its light from reaching a small part of our planet.

Because the upcoming event is a "total eclipse," daylight will give way to sudden darkness for a few brief minutes as the orbiting moon will appear as the same size as the sun, completely blocking its light.

Unlike partial solar eclipses, a total eclipse offers spectators a unique opportunity to gaze upon it with the naked eye, but only when the moon completely blocks out the sun and darkness falls. Until then, proper safety eyewear is still a must, according to NASA.

Certified eyewear is held to an international safety standard and is 100,000 times darker than most sunglasses to block nearly all visible, infrared and ultraviolet light. To make it easy, the American Astronomical Society maintains a curated list of approved vendors.

And you may want to see it while you can: For North America, the next total solar eclipse won't be until 2044, according to NASA.

Eric Lagatta covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach him at elagatta@gannett.com

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Moon Beach, more perfectly-named places on the 2024 solar eclipse path