Green Source DFW reporter Amy Martin, third from right, with her husband Scooter Smith, second from right, traveled to northwestern Nebraska for the total solar eclipse in 2017. Photo courtesy of Amy Martin.
May 11, 2023
Texans will have two opportunities to view solar eclipses in the next year: an annular solar eclipse on Oct. 14, 2023, and a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.
The total solar eclipse will be the big deal in North Texas, where it will be viewable across the Metroplex. The annular solar eclipse will only be viewable in West and South Texas.
Either way, make your plans now.
Watch as the Moon creeps across the face of the Sun, covering it entirely or nearly so. Be awed as the shadow cast by the Moon races across the Earth's surface at well over a thousand miles per hour. Feel your place in the universe with profound grace.
Solar eclipses occur only at the peak of the New Moon phase. If the orbital planes of the Earth, Moon and Sun were level to each other, they'd happen every 28 days. But they're at slight angles to each other, and on most New Moons, the lunar shadow misses the Earth entirely and continues into space.
During total and annular solar eclipses, the orbits line up perfectly so that the Moon centers over and obliterates the Sun's face — entirely for a total solar eclipse or nearly for an annular solar eclipse.
NASA explains an annular eclipse. Courtesy of NASA.
SOLAR ECLIPSE BASICS
Solar eclipses are only visible from a specific geographic band at a particular time. Outside of that band, the total solar eclipse is not visible. This band is essentially the path of the Moon's shadow as it races across the Earth. The inner lunar shadow, the umbra, gives the most coverage of the solar disc. The outer shadow, the penumbra, provides only a partial eclipse.
Those in the band’s center see the most complete version of the phenomenon. The length of the eclipse and the darkness and speed of the Moon's shadow varies depending on where you are along the length of that band.
Get the most complete details from the Great American Eclipse website about the October 2023 annular solar eclipse, and April 2024 total solar eclipse. The website, first created for the 2017 total solar eclipse, includes a variety of maps, an animation, times for specific cities, and tips for viewing.
For either type of eclipse, take care to view it safely. Use eclipse glasses and follow the American Astronomical Society instructions.
2023 ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE
In an annular solar eclipse, the Sun's outer edge remains uncovered. Solar rays extend like a ring of fire. Annular means "related to or forming a ring." While the lunar shadow is less intense, it's very dramatic, nonetheless.
The path of the annular solar eclipse through Texas in October. Courtesy of Michael Zeiler, GreatAmericanEclipse.com.
The annular solar eclipse path zooms from Odessa to San Angelo to San Antonio to Corpus Christi. It enters Texas near the Panhandle-West Texas junction on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 11:41 am CDT and exits at noon on the lower Gulf Coast.
The lunar shadow’s speed ranges from 1,736 to 2,313 mph. The maximum time in Texas the solar face is covered, called the duration of annularity, is 4 minutes and 52 seconds at Padre Island National Seashore. The entire total solar eclipse process lasts about three hours.
The Date & Time website offers this sequence for Dallas:
• Begins at 10:23 am — outer lunar shadow touches the solar face
• Maximum at 11:52 am — solar face is covered as much as possible
• Ends at 1:29 pm — outer lunar shadow exits the solar face
The Fort Worth sequence starts and ends only one minute earlier.
To get the most specific times for the Dallas area, visit Date & Time's annular solar eclipse page.
This animation shows the process of the annular eclipse across Texas in October.
2024 TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE
In a total solar eclipse, the Sun's face disappears. The dark hole in the sky is the New Moon. Being backlit, its features are indiscernible. It is simply wu wei, pure potential. A solar eclipse is the only time we can actually view a new moon.
The path of the total solar eclipse through Texas next April. Courtesy of Michael Zeiler, GreatAmericanEclipse.com.
On April 8, 2024, six months after the annular solar eclipse, the total solar eclipse path enters North America off the tip of Baja California near Mazatlán. It exits the continent at Newfoundland and Labrador across from Greenland. The period of totality is almost twice as long as the 2017 eclipse, up to 4 minutes, 27 seconds.
Dallas sits well for the total solar eclipse, with 3 minutes, 45 seconds of totality. But more toward the center of the eclipse path, the totality will be longer and the Moon's shadow darker.
The Date & Time website offers this sequence for Dallas:
• Begins: at 12:23 pm — outer lunar shadow touches the solar face
• Maximum at 1:42 pm — solar face is covered as much as possible
• Ends at 3:02 pm — outer lunar shadow exits the solar face
The Fort Worth sequence starts and ends only one minute earlier.To get the most specific times for DFW area, visit Date & Time's annular solar eclipse page
This animation shows the path of the total solar eclipse across Texas next April. Courtesy of Great American Eclipse.
Most viewers focus on the process of the solar face slowly darkening. In the last 30 to 40 minutes, the sunlight around you polarizes. Wildlife responds to the crepuscular and exhibits night behaviors. Everything in nature quiets.
The real thrill is just a couple of minutes before totality. The horizon takes on a 360-degree sunset glow in wavering red, orange and purple shades. Turn your attention to the ecliptic arcing across the sky as planets suddenly pop into view. Feel the temperature drop. Breezes stir from the contrast of light and dark, warm and cool.
Turn toward the incoming eclipse path and gaze at the far horizon as the lunar shadow screams across the landscape, like an immense storm that swallows everything whole. You almost expect the four horsemen of the apocalypse to burst forth.
Watch as the solar face becomes utterly dark except for a wispy corona of flaring prominences. There is darkness where a star should be, a hole in the sky, a portal to the infinite unknown. It reminds us that most of the cosmos is dark matter, that we arise from the womb's darkness and to the universal darkness we return.
Looking west during the 2017 total solar eclipse, the nearly 70-mile-wide path of totality roars toward viewers like massive storm on the horizon, capped by a 360-degree sunset glow. Video by Scooter Smith.
Set your cameras and phones aside and be open to the experience. Submit to the total solar eclipse as a spiritual act and feel the rising ecstasy, the radiant awe. Know your place in a universe of circles inside circles inside spirals in the sky. Allow yourself to scream, weep and laugh. Experience what it is to be human caught in a cosmic matrix, to know awe as no other creature can.
These images show a total solar eclipse and an annular solar eclipse. Courtesy of NASA/MSFC/Joseph Matus and NASA/Bill Dunford.
• Great American Eclipse. This website created for the 2017 total solar eclipse offers a plethora of information on the October 2023 annular solar eclipse and the April 2024 total solar eclipse. Includes a variety of maps, an animation, times for specific cities and tips for viewing.
• American Astronomical Society. Eye safety from experts.
• NASA. Learn more about the eclipse types, the science and history behind eclipse.
• My Total Solar Eclipse Experience. For a fun and exacting chronicle of this author experiencing a total solar eclipse in Nebraska, read Eclipsestock! North Texas writer witnesses totality in Nebraska.
• Be Flexible. Study the path carefully and have multiple places and routes planned if the weather turns cloudy.
• Be Eye-Aware. Wear eclipse glasses for viewing the solar face. Be ready to take them off at totality. Purchase good quality ones having a lifespan of at least four hours in sunlight.
• Look for the Bright Spots. To get the whole experience of Baily's Beads, diamond-like rays of sunlight squeezing through the lunar terrain on the Moon's edge, purchase solar binoculars.
• Find a Good Perch. The ideal location for shadow watching will be elevated and provide a clear view of the approach. For the October 2023 eclipse, find an open area with a view to the northeast and stretching to the southwest. For the April 2024 eclipse, find an open area with a view to the southwest and extending to the northeast.
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