In 2017, tens of millions of people came out to view the 2017 total solar eclipse, the first in the US in nearly four decades. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware that there are two major solar eclipses happening right over Texas in the coming months (October 14, 2023, and April 8, 2024). If you live in the path of either of the eclipses, you’ve probably already got your house, cottage, cabin, trailer, and tent rented out to the hordes of eclipse watchers who will arrive in the Lone Star State to view this massive phenomenon.
Astronomer, teacher and author Dr. Jeffrey Bennett explained that the 2023 eclipse will be annular, which means it occurs at a time when the Moon is farther from Earth in its orbit, so that it won’t completely block the Sun. Instead, it will appear in front of the Sun but surrounded by a ring (or “annulus”) of sunlight. This means it won’t get completely dark during the 2023 eclipse, and also means that you will need eye protection at all times to look toward the eclipsed Sun. The bigger event is the total solar eclipse (totality) of 2024, when the Moon will completely block out the Sun along the path of totality. During totality, it will become dark enough to see planets and bright stars, and you’ll be able to remove your eclipse glasses to see the eclipsed Sun surrounded by its spectacular corona (atmosphere).
Here’s what you need to know about the October 14 Annular Eclipse (check back next spring for info about the April 8 Total Solar Eclipse):
Download the latest version of the Totality app. The app is sponsored by the American Astronomical Society (see https://eclipse.aas.org/totality) and will give you tons of information about past eclipses, upcoming eclipses, safe viewing tips, classroom activities, additional resources and much more!
> Tips for eclipse viewing:
>>The entire contiguous United States will see at least a partial solar eclipse in both cases, but to see annularity in 2023 and/or totality in 2024, you MUST be on the narrow paths shown on the map above, and the closer to the centerline of the paths, the better.
>>While you can easily watch the eclipse on your own, it’s often more fun to watch with a group, especially if there are amateur or professional astronomers who can explain what’s going on and bring telescopes with special solar filters. So look for eclipse events (or volunteer to help set one up) in the area where you are planning to go. Dr. Bennett will be speaking at Scobee Education Center and Planetarium in San Antonio, and you can also check out the eclipse viewing programs at McDonald Observatory (Fort Davis), George Observatory (Houston), Angelo State Planetarium (San Angelo), and others across the state.
>>An inexpensive pair of eclipse glasses (see purchase link below) makes it possible to look up at the Sun throughout the eclipse. (In fact, you can use eclipse glasses to look safely at the Sun at any time.) Just remember two key points: (1) Be sure that you get your eclipse glasses from a reputable source, such as those vetted by the American Astronomical Society (listed at eclipse.aas.org) or the glasses that are included with Dr. Bennett’s book, Totality! An Eclipse Guide in Rhyme and Science; (2) you should never look up at the Sun without your eclipse glasses except during totality, when you can and should remove them.
>>Check out the coolest eclipse book for sky watchers of all ages: Totality! An Eclipse Guide in Rhyme and Science by Dr. Jeffrey Bennett, founder of Big Kid Science, who will be doing school visits and speaking events all over Texas for both eclipses.
Don’t miss these 2 major eclipse events passing right through our great state. The next major total solar eclipse over the contiguous United States won’t occur until 2045!
Big Kid Science link for autographed Totality! Book (2 pair of eclipse glasses included!)
Leslie Barrett is a native Texan and avid traveler and reader, living her best life in the Hill Country.