A total eclipse of the Sun is a grand spectacle of nature. Words never adequately describe it, and photographs or videos don’t do it justice. Seeing a total solar eclipse is an experience like no other, and eclipse chasers witnessing totality for the first time are often emotionally overwhelmed by the experience.
This amazing sight is the climax of a marvelous celestial alignment, when the Moon passes directly across the face of the Sun. If the apparent diameter of the Moon is slightly larger than that of the Sun’s, the result is totality when Luna completely covers Sol’s face. The beginning and end of the total eclipse phase is proclaimed by two magnificent diamond rings. The Sun’s pale ethereal outer atmosphere—the corona—emerges during totality and surrounds the apparent hole in the sky where the Sun used to be. All around the horizon is a pale sunset glow, while a few bright planets and stars emerge in the dusky sky overhead. But all too soon, totality ends.
A total solar eclipse is a three-part affair: a partial eclipse before totality, the all-too-brief total eclipse itself, and a partial eclipse after totality. When looking at the Sun, eclipsed or otherwise, at any time other than during those few brief moments of totality, two words come to mind: Safety First. Improper solar eclipse viewing can result in what’s known as eclipse blindness—a temporary (or possibly permanent) loss of vision, depending on the severity of the damage. During the partial eclipse phases, you must always use safe solar filters or eclipse-viewing glasses. Only during totality, when the Moon completely covers the Sun, can you stare Sunward without filters. Our blog, “How to Safely Watch a Solar Eclipse”, explains everything you need to know about safely observing an eclipse of the Sun.
After beginning at sunrise in the Pacific Ocean, the Moon’s shadow makes landfall on a beach just south of Mazatlán, Mexico. There, sunbathers will have their tanning session interrupted by 4 minutes 25 seconds of totality as the lunar shadow passes overhead.
The total eclipse then races northeast through Mexico, and 20 minutes after landfall, crosses the Mexico/US border. Here totality is a mere 2 seconds longer than on the coast. The eclipse path continues northeast, passing through 15 states, though only tiny areas of Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Michigan will see totality. Significant parts of Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine will experience a total solar eclipse. It takes the Moon’s shadow a mere 65 minutes to cover the distance between the Mexico/Texas border and the Maine/Canada border. From there, the path of totality moves across southern Ontario and Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland before ending at sunset in the Atlantic Ocean.
For a good, interactive map of the 2024 solar eclipse, go to Xavier Jubier’s website. There you’ll find a variety of solar eclipse maps showing eclipse paths across Earth’s surface for years past and future.
The last time Texas was enveloped by a total solar eclipse was July, 1878. Wondering when the next one in Texas takes place? This is it—April 8, 2024. And Texas is an interesting place to be for this eclipse. For one thing, the longest duration of totality within the US takes place in Texas. On the centerline at the Mexican border, totality lasts for 4 minutes 27 seconds. By the time it crosses into Oklahoma and Arkansas, it’s down to less than 4 minutes 20 seconds. For those who want maximum totality in the US, it doesn’t get any longer than in Texas.
In general, the weather prospects for the 2024 eclipse in Texas are the best in the US. The average April cloud cover along the eclipse centerline increases as the track heads northeast toward Ohio and New York state.
As an interesting aside, this total solar eclipse in Texas may be seen by more people than in any other state on the centerline path in the US. Texas is large, the path of totality cuts through a large swath of the state, and it passes over four of the state’s five largest cities. The entire Dallas-Fort Worth region is in the lunar shadow, with totality lasting upwards of 4 minutes for eclipse watchers in Dallas’s southeastern suburbs. Much of Austin lies within the southeastern edge of totality; the Texas State Capitol will enjoy a 1 minute 50 second total eclipse. However, San Antonio sits right on the eastern edge of the path of totality. Downtown San Antonio misses out; observers will need to be in the northwestern part of the city to see totality. Houston, the largest city in Texas with more than two million inhabitants, is outside the path. But it’s only a three-hour drive (on Interstates) to either Austin or San Antonio, and it’s a little more than two hours (140 miles) to the nearest edge of the path of totality.
If the crowded roads, sold-out accommodations, and fervent response to the Great American Eclipse of 2017 are any indication, the April 2024 eclipse will elicit even more enthusiasm. After all, this is the last total solar eclipse to touch the continental US until 2044.
With so many people expected to head to Texas to see the 2024 solar eclipse, why not avoid all the travel aggravation and join TravelQuest on our Texas expedition to totality. Doing so means you’ll have guaranteed accommodations at a guaranteed price, transportation, meals, and admission to interesting attractions all taken care of. Our eclipse meteorologist has selected a site with an excellent chance of clear skies, and we’ll transport you to and from our eclipse-viewing site on eclipse day. The result will be a worry-free travel and eclipse experience.
Since its founding in 1996, TravelQuest has planned and fulfilled some 250 solar eclipse tours to all seven continents. Our eight-day “Texas Total Solar Eclipse” excursion takes us to Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. On eclipse day, April 8th, we’ll experience more than 4 minutes of totality. If you’d like to join us for totality in Texas in 2024, click on the link above to learn more.
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