Total Solar Eclipse: the Least You Need to Know

“You cannot completely prepare yourself for the astonishing sight of a total solar eclipse,” according to the Field Guide to the 2023 and 2024 Solar Eclipses book.

“When the moment of totality arrives, you will experience extreme wonderment at the unspeakable beauty of the Sun’s corona and the panoply of colors and light in the suddenly darkened sky.”

See path across America of 2024 total eclipse

“Seeing a total solar eclipse is an intensely emotional experience,” authors Michael Zeiler and Michael E. Bakich explain. “What you will see in the sky is so far removed from your life experience that your mind will be disoriented and thrilled by the exquisite spectacle. It’s like nothing you have seen before.”

North America will experience a total eclipse on April 8, 2024.

Fortunately, we will enjoy a warm-up act, via an annular solar eclipse on October 14, 2023.


This is the term used by eclipse chasers to confirm the exact beginning when the Moon begins to take it’s “first notch” out of the Sun’s disk.


This is the exact instance at which the total phase of the eclipse begins. The clock starts, and depending on your location if you’re in the path line, the eclipse will last between 69 to 77 minutes during first and second contacts.

You actually will not notice much change between Contacts 1 and 2, because the process is slow. But about 40 minutes in, you will begin (if you have safe solar filter viewers in place over your eyes) to observe the progression of the Moon’s black disc across the Sun’s magnificent face.

X marks the spot of our home location for two eclipses


At the 3/4 mark, (about 20 minutes before totality) shadows become sharper. Leaves act as pinhole cameras as crescent Suns appear on the ground shadows.

Earth becomes cooler (as much to 10° to 20° cooler in Texas) and quiet as nature takes heed. Birds quiet.


This is when the Sun’s corona and Moon’s disc form the last miniscule of a brilliant “diamond ring.”


Sunset colors surround the entire horizon, not just the west.

For the next hour, as the sky transforms back to normal (if there is no cloud cover) you will be able to see the Moon travel across the Sun’s face. Venus and Jupiter will remain visible.


This is the last contact of the Moon’s disk with the Sun. Wise eclipse chasers begin to mingle, discuss their experiences and have a meal or snack to allow anxious traffic to move on.


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  1. Thanks! I will have to travel and get the glasses. I wonder where the best place to go see it where there is little or no cloud cover. I saw a partial eclipse the last time. Some people drove down from D.C. to Charlestown S.C. but missed it due to cloud cover. Others drove to Columbia S.C. and had clear skies. If I miss it, I might go to Egypt August 2027. You are almost certain to have clear skies.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I will be ready for it. Maybe Washington DC will crumble and fall into the abyss taking all of our politicians, or perhaps people will run wild in the streets with their hair on fire. You never know what your going to get with an eclipse.

    Liked by 3 people

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