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This is the place to find out all things about the upcoming solar eclipses. The first one, an Annular "Ring of Fire" Solar Eclipse, took place on October 14, 2023. The second one will be a Total Solar Eclipse and will occur on April 8, 2024. Texas is the Nexus of both solar eclipses! But nearly all the United States plus Mexico and parts of Canada will be able to see at least a partial eclipse for both events.
All About Eclipses
About Eclipses

What is a Solar Eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is on a direct line between the Earth and the Sun, and the shadow of the Moon falls across a portion of the Earth. This will only happen during the New Moon phase, when the Moon is near the Sun in the sky, so only the back (unseen) side of the Moon is lit by the Sun.  





Why doesn't an eclipse happen every month?

The Moon's orbit around the Earth is tilted about 5 degrees from the orbit of the Earth around the Sun (or the apparent orbit of the Sun around the Earth). Therefore, most of the time the Moon passes slightly below or above the Sun. Since an eclipse only occurs when the Moon and Sun are exactly lined up, that means there are possible "eclipse seasons" about every 6 months. The shadow of the Moon only creates a very narrow path along the Earth, and since the Earth rotates, this path will be along a different part of the Earth each time. 




Why does the Moon appear to be the same size as the Sun?

We all know that the Sun is much, much larger than the Moon. But the Sun is also much, much farther away from the Earth than the Moon. In fact, the Sun is about 400 times the diameter of the Moon. But it also happens to be about 400 times farther away than the Moon. This cosmic coincidence means that they appear to be about the same size in the sky. Therefore, we have solar eclipses. In fact, we are the only planet in the solar system that has a Moon that is the correct size and distance to cause total solar eclipses. All the moons orbiting the other 5 planets are either too small or too big to cause eclipses. (Mercury and Venus have no moons.) They will either occult the Sun (completely cover it by a wide margin) or transit the Sun (appear as a tiny body crossing in front of it).


Does the Moon always appear to be the same size?

No, it does not. Because the Moon’s orbit is elliptical, not circular, the Moon is sometimes closer and sometimes more distant from the Earth. The most distant point, called Apogee, is 406,700 km (251,900 mi) away. The closest point, or Perigee, is 356,500 km (225,700 mi) away. This means that the Moon appears to be 14% larger near perigee than it is near apogee. A full Moon at perigee is also called a Super Moon. When the Moon is near apogee, it appears to be slightly smaller than the Sun (see below).


What are the 3 types of Solar Eclipses?


  • A Total Eclipse occurs when the Umbra, or dark central portion of the shadow of the Moon crosses over the part of the Earth that you are on. The Moon appears to entirely cover the Sun, except for the outermost solar atmospheric layer, called the Corona (or “crown”). The Corona can only be seen during a total solar eclipse. Totality lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on how close one is to the Center Line, where Totality lasts the longest.


  • An Annular Eclipse occurs when the Moon is near apogee, or the most distant point from the Earth, so the cone-shaped Umbra shadow does not reach the surface of the Earth. Beneath the Umbra is a part of the shadow called the Antumbra. When the antumbra crosses the portion of the Earth you are on, you will see an Annular Eclipse. The word annular is from Annulus, or Ring. The Moon appears to cover all the Sun except a narrow ring around the edge. So this type of eclipse is sometimes called a Ring of Fire. Annularity can last 2 or 3 minutes.

  • A Partial Eclipse occurs when the Penumbra, or outer lighter shadow of the Moon crosses over the part of the Earth you are on. It appears as though the Moon only covers part of the Sun. A partial eclipse can last up to 2 or 3 hours for the Moon’s penumbra shadow to traverse the face of the Sun. Both Total and Annular Eclipses have a partial phase that comes before and after the full eclipse. Again, the partial phases last 2 to 3 hours altogether.

October 14
About the October 14 Eclipse
Annular Eclipse 2023 map GreatAmerEclipse.png

The Annular, or "Ring of Fire" Eclipse, was visible as a partial eclipse throughout most of the Greater Austin region. To see the complete ring, you would have had to head a bit west and south of the city, as shown on the following map. But I hope most of you were able to see it anyway, even if it was not a complete ring. Annular and Partial Eclipses are still fairly rare and very exciting to see. This eclipse gives you a preview of the main event to come, on April 8, 2024.

Oct 14 Eclipse Map XJubier.png

Photographs and more information are coming.

About the April 8 Eclipse
April 8
Total Eclipse 2024 map2 GreatAmerEclipse.webp

The big upcoming event is the Total Solar Eclipse of April 8, 2024. This is the last total solar eclipse that will be visible in the USA for another 21 years, so don't miss it! A  total eclipse is very different from a partial or annular eclipse. Total solar eclipses are unique experiences, happening above you, around you, and within you. Above you the sky gets dark enough to see planets as the Sun disappears behind the black Moon. The landscape darkens like at sunset, but in all directions. The temperature drops. Listen: crickets chirp and birds stop singing. Within you is a feeling of wonder. Some have declared a total eclipse to be life changing.

As you can see in the map below, most of the Austin metropolitan area, except the southeast corner, is within the path of totality. If you (or your children) are not within totality, please do everything within your power to get yourself and your family within the path.  Do not think that being a few miles from the path  at 99.9% of totality will give you the same experience. That is like planning to go to Disney World, but when you get to the parking lot, saying "See? There are the rides. Now that we have seen Disney World, we can go home." Or watching the feed from NASA on a screen and saying that you have experienced totality.  No, you have not!


However, that being said, if you cannot leave work, or your kids cannot leave school, then by all means still go outside and view the nearly total eclipse. It is still an unusual and unique experience!

The Schedule of the total eclipse in Central Texas will be as follows:

  1. The partial phase begins (2st Contact) at about 12:15 pm on Monday, April 8

  2. Totality begins (2nd Contact) at about 1:36 pm

  3. Totality ends (3rd Contact) at about 1:38 pm

  4. Partial phase ends (4th contact) at about 3:00 pm


Note that the times are approximate, depending on exactly where you are located. The closer you are to the Center Line (blue line on above map) the longer is Totality. Here are some examples:

Totality Start Time
Totality End Time
Totality Duration
Travis County Expo Center
0 min 36 seconds
1 min 38 sec
Sunset Valley
1 min 53 sec
Zilker Park
1 min 58 sec
The Domain
2 min 27 sec
Emma Long Park
2 min 38 sec
Steiner Ranch
2 min 59 sec
Cedar Park
3 min 15 sec
3 min 18 sec
Dripping Springs
3 min 4 sec

Eye Safety:  Remember that you should NEVER stare at the Sun, whether during an eclipse or not. The incredibly bright light from the Sun can damage your eyes! To stay safe, you MUST use solar eclipse glasses or viewers, as shown in the photo below, during all partial phases. During totality ONLY, take off your eclipse glasses and enjoy the sight of the entire Sun blocked out by the Moon. The Corona is perfectly safe to view unprotected; it is no brighter than a full Moon. Once you see the first glimpse of the Diamond Ring, it means Totality is over and it is time to use your Eclipse viewers or glasses again for the remainder of the partial eclipse.


Other ways to view the eclipse indirectly include making a box pinhole viewer or or cutting a pinhole in a card. Check out below for more ideas for viewing the sun safely.

Kids with Eclipse Glasses.jpg
Eclipse Planetarium Shows

Check out our Solar Eclipse planetarium shows: Totality and Totality Over Texas, produced by the Houston Museum of Natural Science and Rice University. Total solar eclipses are a rare and beautiful phenomena, and in this new planetarium show you will learn how eclipses happen, how to safely view one, and where these two eclipses in 2023 and 2024 take place. You will learn the history of eclipse watchers and how to observe safely. Produced by Houston Museum of Natural Science. Best for grades 4 and up. 10 minute and 24 minute versions are available. 

  • YouTube
Totality planetarium show.jpg
Planetarium Show
Solar Eclipse Activities

We have several solar eclipse-related activities for ages 3-adult. More information is coming.

For more information, please contact us at

Eclipse Activities
Safe Eclipse Viewing
Eclipse Maps and other Links

Background © Martin Rietze 2019 Solar Eclipse Chile

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