Almost five years ago, Aug. 21, 2017:
HOUSTON – My family and I made the trip to Rickreall, Oregon, in 2017 to see the total solar eclipse. And I promise you, if the weather cooperates, it is completely worth making the effort to see. This is a picture my friend Wendy Chavez took in Oregon.
What is a total solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse happens when the moon casts a shadow on Earth, fully or partially blocking the sun’s light. The experience of totality, being in a place where the moon is completely blocking the sun’s light is incredible! Most of us have seen a partial solar eclipse, but that experience does not compare. Below are the cities that will experience totality, as well as what percentage of the sun will be blocked by the moon on April 8, 2024.
Why you should not be in Houston on that day:
Houston will get a partial eclipse covering 90% of the sun. But if you are in the path of totality, you’ll be able to see the sun’s corona. That is the outermost part of the sun’s atmosphere. Because of the brightness of the sun, it can only be seen during a total solar eclipse. I saw the diamond ring effect in 2017 before the moon moved out of the sun’s shadow. And Baily’s beads can also be seen during totality. These are an arc of bright spots first seen during an eclipse in 1836.
What you should be thinking about now:
The total solar eclipse starts around 1:30 p.m. on April 8, 2024. The closer you are to the center line the longer you’ll be in totality which for some of us will be almost four and a half minutes! In Oregon we were in totality for 58 seconds. Because this is such an incredible sight, most hotels are already booked, and Airbnb rentals will be expensive. If you have friends and family in the path of totality, now is a great time to make your plans.
Get there early! The roads will be gridlocked with people who think they can drive the morning of April 8, and get to a good spot. Literally millions of people will do this. Don’t be one of them. Do you remember what the evacuation of Hurricane Rita looked like in Houston? Yeah, you don’t want to get stuck and miss totality.
Drive, don’t fly. Rental cars will be hard to find and you don’t want to be stuck in an area that has clouds or thunderstorms. As we’ve seen the past several weeks, thunderstorms happen once or twice a week this time of year in Texas. If you have your own car, you may be able to drive to a clear spot for those precious minutes. The hope is we have clear skies nationwide on that day.
Don’t rush back to Houston. Think Hurricane Rita in the opposite direction.
Get your eclipse glasses early. There are only two places in the United States that manufacture solar eclipse glasses. There will come a point, a few weeks before the eclipse, that glasses will be nearly impossible to find.
I’ll have another post in a year, and as we get closer to the date, I’ll have much more to share. For now, start thinking about how you’ll see this incredible event. If you want to learn more Mr. Eclipse, Fred Espenak, is one of the leading experts on all eclipses. He has an excellent website.