April 8 Total Solar Eclipse
On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will travel across North America, with the Moon surrounded by the Sun’s delicate corona. Texas will be a great spot to experience it – the state is in the "path of totality" and typically enjoys clear, cloud-free weather.
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What Is a Solar Eclipse?
When the Moon orbits Earth, it sometimes moves between the Sun and Earth. When it does, the Moon casts a shadow on Earth that either fully or partially blocks the Sun’s light in some areas. This is a solar eclipse.
We are able to experience solar eclipses because of an incredible astronomical coincidence: the apparent sizes of our Sun and Moon are both the same when seen from Earth. This is because, although the Sun is roughly 400 times larger in diameter than the Moon, the Moon is also 400 times closer to us than the Sun.
There are four types of solar eclipses:
- Total solar eclipse: The Moon passes between the Earth and Sun, completely covering the Sun’s disk along a narrow path. You must be within the narrow path of the Moon’s shadow to experience a total solar eclipse.
- Annular solar eclipse: The Moon’s distance from Earth varies by roughly 31,000 miles (50,000 km). If an eclipse occurs when the Moon is farther away than average, the Moon isn’t quite wide enough to completely cover the Sun. That leaves a “ring of fire” around the Moon.
- Hybrid solar eclipse: On rare occasions, the beginning and end of a solar eclipse can be annular, with a total eclipse sandwiched between.
- Partial solar eclipse: When the Moon blocks only a part of the Sun it creates a partial eclipse. All solar eclipses include partial phases, while some eclipses offer only partial coverage, with the Moon-Sun alignment not quite precise enough for a total or annular period.
How to View a Solar Eclipse Safely
The only time it is safe to look at the sun with your naked eye is during the brief total phase (totality) of a total solar eclipse, such as the one that will occur on April 8, 2024. During a partial or annular solar eclipse, such as the one that occured on October 14, 2023, there is no time when it is safe to look directly at the Sun without using adequate protection.
Adequate protection includes:
- Eclipse glasses and viewers: Make sure they meet an international standard of eye protection (ISO 12312-2), are certified, and are free of scratches or other flaws.
- Welder’s glass: No. 13 or 14 welder’s glass provide both protection and visibility.
Visit the American Astronomical Society’s website to learn about eclipse eye safety.
Where and When to View the Eclipses
This interactive map let you look up when the solar eclipse will be visible (if at all) from any given location:
- Map of April 8, 2024, Eclipse Path: https://bit.ly/46JVawB
- This map shows the times in Universal Coordinated Time. Here’s a converter to change that time to your time zone: www.worldtimebuddy.com
Another resource for looking up the eclipse path is the Totality app (free).
When choosing a viewing location, consider:
- Weather: Check if the location historically has clear, cloud-free skies on the date of the eclipse. The night before, check the forecast and have an alternate viewing site in mind if yours will be clouded out.
- Lodging: Hotels along the eclipse path (especially the total eclipse in April) will fill up quickly. Book yours well in advance.
- Traffic: Traffic will be heavy (especially for the total eclipse in April), so plan your route in advance and allow plenty of time to reach your viewing site.
Experience the April 8, 2024, Total Solar Eclipse with Us
McDonald Observatory and UT Austin representatives will be onsite for eclipse events in:
- Eagle Pass: Shelby Park and/or other locations throughout the city.
- Austin*: The University of Texas at Austin and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
- Fort Davis*: McDonald Observatory
*Parts of Austin and all of Fort Davis are outside the path of totality and will only see partial eclipses. We recommend that you travel into the path of totality to experience the full effect.
Be sure to check in advance with these and any other event locations for information on entry requirements, parking/transportation, and more. Eclipse viewings are likely to draw a crowd!
Training Sessions: How to Host an Eclipse Viewing Event
McDonald Observatory is providing online training (via Zoom) for K-12 educators, community volunteers, and others who are planning to host their own viewing events. Workshops cover the science of eclipses, how to experience them safely, and tips for hosting an event.
After the workshop, McDonald Observatory will send educational materials to attendees. Some event locations will be selected to receive physical materials including eclipse viewers and StarDate Eclipse Guides.
- Friday, December 8, 10-11:30 a.m.
- Tuesday, December 12, 1-2:30 p.m.
StarDate Radio (produced by McDonald Observatory) will also create a special feature audio program about the eclipse that will be distributed to event partners throughout the state along with Public Service Announcements to help promote and educate a large audience about this special event.
Connect with an Eclipse Expert
- Eclipse Event Planners: To request for an astronomer to speak at your upcoming eclipse event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include information about the event time and location, any travel or lodging provided, and other relevant details. Due to the large number of requests, we are unable to provide speakers for all events.
- Media and Press: To request an interview with an astronomer for an upcoming news story, contact email@example.com.
- Teachers and Educators: To discuss eclipse training sessions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Visit the Contact page of our website for additional ways to connect with us.