On April 8, 2024, will a solar eclipse pass across every city named Nineveh in the United States?

One of the most amazing natural events will take place on April 8, 2024, for a few minutes in a narrow, curving zone across North America: a total solar eclipse. Millions of people from all over the world will converge on cities in the path of totality, including Dallas and Indianapolis because it is the only opportunity for people on the continent to look directly at the sun without risking vision damage until the next North American eclipse in 2044.




Anybody in the path of totality will be able to witness the sun completely blocked by the moon because eclipses do not discriminate. On the other hand, some have stated on the internet that there is an intriguing coincidence about the eclipse’s route of totality: it will pass through all of the US cities that have the name Nineveh. The Bible refers to an ancient city in present-day Iraq by the same name as “evil.”

A reader emailed Snopes requesting that we investigate the claim regarding cities called Nineveh being in the path of the eclipse. Upon conducting our research, we found that a large number of the claimants were Christians who saw the eclipse as a dire portent.




In contrast to the assertions, Snopes found that the eclipse’s path of totality only passes through two American communities called Nineveh, not seven. But before we begin to count the locations called Nineveh, let’s take a moment to explain how eclipses occur.

How Eclipses Work

On April 8, 2024, will a solar eclipse pass across every city named Nineveh in the United States?
On April 8, 2024, will a solar eclipse pass across every city named Nineveh in the United States?

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon and sun align at the same time. The moon completely hides the sun’s light, creating a massive shadow on the earth. Those totally inside the moon’s shadow, known as the umbra, will be the only ones able to look straight at the sun without eye protection. People travel to the tiny path of the umbra to witness the complete solar eclipse. The website GreatAmericanEclipse.com generated a graphic depicting the shadow’s passage throughout North America.

Outside the umbra, in a much bigger area where the moon just blocks some of the sun, spectators will see a partial solar eclipse, in which the sun appears to have taken a giant bite out of itself. You can’t see a partial solar eclipse without special eclipse glasses. On April 8, the whole continental United States will observe a partial solar eclipse, exactly as it did in 2017 (including Alaska and Hawaii).




The cool part (partial) of an eclipse can be seen from a wide region if you wear eclipse glasses. The most amazing (total) aspect of an eclipse can only be observed in a small area. People have believed that total eclipses held religious significance for almost as long as humans have had eyes to observe and religions to follow.

To paraphrase essayist Annie Dillard:

A partial eclipse is really interesting. It has almost no resemblance to a total eclipse. Seeing a partial eclipse is like to kissing a man and marrying him, or flying in an airplane and falling out of it. Although one event comes before the other, it in no way prepares you for it.




Places Named Nineveh

On April 8, 2024, will a solar eclipse pass across every city named Nineveh in the United States?
On April 8, 2024, will a solar eclipse pass across every city named Nineveh in the United States?

We began by looking through Wikipedia’s list of Nineveh-related places to obtain a broad notion of where to look. Of course, we tested those results against more trustworthy sources of information, such as Google Maps and Census Bureau data.

Wikipedia lists just six places in the United States named Nineveh, making our claim of seven questionable to begin with. When we looked up the locations on Google Maps, we discovered that three of them were townships, which is a term used in some states to refer to county subdivisions.




The first was the largest, Indiana’s Nineveh Township (south of Indianapolis), which includes a small hamlet by the same name. Both the municipality and the hamlet will be in the path of the complete eclipse.

Next, Wikipedia identified two Missouri townships: one in Adair County (approximately midway between Kansas City and Davenport, Iowa) and another in Lincoln County (about an hour northwest of St. Louis). However, neither of the two townships had a settlement named Nineveh on any of the maps we looked at. Furthermore, neither of the townships were in the path of the total eclipse. Nineveh, New York, ranks fourth on Wikipedia’s list and is roughly 30 minutes east of Binghamton. We discovered it marked on maps, but it was not in the path of totality.




Fifth: Nineveh, Pennsylvania, about midway between Pittsburgh and Morgantown, West Virginia. Although Nineveh was marked on maps, it was also outside of the entire eclipse. It was also the last Nineveh recorded by the United States Census Bureau.

Sixth, we discovered Nineveh, Virginia, an hour and a half west of Washington, D.C. This was the simplest to verify: no one in the state of Virginia will be able to see totality during the eclipse. We could not discover a label for Nineveh on maps, and buildings in the region had postal addresses labeled as White Post, Virginia.

That completed the Wikipedia list, but several blogs on the claimed lineup mentioned two more Ninevehs in the United States: one in Texas and one in Ohio.




Nineveh, Texas, did not appear on maps and did not have a post office. It was near Interstate 45, almost midway between Houston and Dallas. This one was close, but we eventually determined that it was outside of the zone of totality by referring to other cities that were also out of totality. Nineveh, Ohio, followed a similar pattern: no maps, no post office, and no Census data. But this Nineveh, located 30 minutes northwest of Dayton, was our second hit.




We found two places named Nineveh in the United States that were in the path of totality.

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