Our April 8, 2024 Eclipse Recap

April 8, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

A shared but unique experience!

🌞🌑🌎 What an eclipse day it was! A week later, eclipse photos & videos are still being shared online. Some people got lucky, others clouded out. It’s amazing that everyone experienced the same event, but everyone also had a unique perspective. It was an out-of-body experience, so it’s great to have a way to remember what happened…

Image via Raúl Cortés.
Image via Raúl Cortés. A bonus of our trip was finally meeting him in real life!

Totality in Frederickburg, TX

The Sun Today team (Alex and Linda) spent eclipse day, April 8, 2024, at Becker Vineyards in Fredericksburg, Texas, the pinnacle of a trip to explore the Texas Hill Country. We joined a group of 300+ travelers with Smithsonian Journeys to share in nature’s wonderful spectacle, a total solar eclipse. It was a day to talk about the science of eclipses, as well as the science that could be done with eclipses. We had panels to talk about what we could expect leading up to the eclipse and after the event.

Many didn’t think we’d see anything. Linda hoped for 3 seconds of corona, 1 more than the 2 seconds she saw in 2017 (Alex had zero). This is the joy and pain of eclipse chasing! Best option is to plan a fantastic trip with awesome people, which is what we did (thanks to Smithsonian Journeys, and our amazing group leader, Steve – the Snack Master General!!)

We were hopeful as partial started. Then clouds danced around the Sun and threatened our experience, but even though we didn’t see all of the 4:20 of totality the Sun and the corona prevailed. We did see some partial eclipse & 1 minute, and 16 seconds of totality through the clouds!

We experienced eerie light (a bit of a sunset effect, silvery tone, darkness at peak), freaked-out animals (wild birds squawking, crickets chirping), corona in and out of the clouds, and an amazed crowd. It was a fantastic experience, and like all eclipses, it was a unique day to cherish for the rest of our lives.

Can you imagine what the ancient people’s reaction was to experiencing something like this? We have technology to document this with photos and videos, but all they had was word-of-mouth to try to explain to others what they just saw. You truly get a sense of why eclipses have had historical significance—a sense of why there was so much awe and, for some, so much terror. Even today, while our rational mind has an understanding, our primal minds can still feel a moment of fear. We experience something that is not part of our everyday experience, and for a brief moment, it can feel so alien. But in the end, we are mostly awestruck. Wow! Nature is amazing!😱🥹🤩

We shared activities with the Smithsonian travelers to help them experience the wonderful eclipse shadows and the strange color changes of the Purkinje Effect. We also brought index cards & push pins to make custom pinhole viewers. Clouds dimmed the effects a bit, but we tried! You can try these at home or during your next eclipse trip!

Purkinje Effect demo - clouds dimmed the effect a bit, but we tried!
Purkinje Effect demo
Colander demo for the partial eclipse
Colander shadow demo

Check out the difference between two minutes apart!

This is a comparison of 100% totality and 99% totality. Get yourself to the path of totality next time and experience the darkness. 🌞🌑🌎

Eclipse 2 mins apart!

Photos by Joe Golebieski • Click to view larger size

Linda’s View of the Eclipse

Totality Ends: Darkness Falls (1:34pm CDT)

Totality Ends: The Light Returns (1:38pm CDT)

Birds & Crickets Reaction (1:59pm CDT)

Partial Eclipse: Through the Clouds (2:04pm CDT)

Times for Key Events

The cloud cover prevented us from seeing some of this detail, however the nature was not normal longer than estimated! Credit: timeanddate

timeanddate - Fredericksburg, TX Time Sequence
timeanddate - Fredericksburg, TX Time Sequence
timeanddate - Fredericksburg, TX Time Sequence
timeanddate - Fredericksburg, TX Time Sequence
timeanddate - Fredericksburg, TX Time Sequence
timeanddate - Fredericksburg, TX Time Sequence
timeanddate - Fredericksburg, TX Time Sequence

If you took photos or videos of the event, check your times against what timeanddate predicted! 

If you were at a different location, these times will vary.

Prep for Eclipse Day

Alex gave two lectures to share some of the magic of eclipses.

The when, where, how, and why of eclipses

The first lecture was a detailed look into the nitty gritty of when the eclipse would occur in Fredericksburg, Texas. This entailed a deep dive into what we could expect to see during a detailed timeline from the beginning to the end of the April 8 eclipse. The view of totality from the ground was compared to the different limited views available from space, along with detailed computer predictions of how nature would amaze us. We looked at the specifics of why we have eclipses, and the clockwork of the Sun, Moon, and Earth. We ended with a glimpse of upcoming eclipses for the next 20+ years around the world.

Looking at all the science unique to solar eclipses

Click for a larger view of the photos.

Lecture at the Westcave Discovery Center

The second lecture focused on several facets of the way things work that can only be explored during solar eclipses on Earth. The exciting part of this was the breadth of knowledge scientists can gain thanks to nature. The beginning discussed what can be learned about the Sun, its atmosphere, and the activity it sends our way over its 11-year activity cycle. The next part of the talk reviewed the studies that can and have been conducted to understand the fundamentals of our atmosphere, weather, and climate. This included understanding the mysterious interface to space, the ionosphere, and its impact on our technological society.

Next, a focus on the special experiments eclipses provide showed what we could learn about clouds and atmospheric dynamics. These experiments were not only those done by scientists from the ground, balloons, and airplanes but also with the special participation of the public and students. A unique aspect was the study of bacteria growth on Mars using the environment created by a total solar eclipse.

The last part discussed the new observations surrounding eclipse maps and the accuracy of eclipse timing and locations made possible by our modern data on Earth and lunar topography. All of this brought to light not only the unique opportunity for us but also the special science, thanks to one of nature’s most amazing phenomena.

Alex answered questions from the audience, including drawing a basic explanation of the solar cycle, and the impact on the corona for the 2017 eclipse vs. 2024.

Linda & Alex’s Eclipse “Fashion”

The bright yellow & pink shirts have now witnessed two eclipses! Yellow for the sun, and pink for the prominences that appear during totality. It made it easy for our friends (from the 2023 total solar eclipse off the coast of Western Australia) to spot us around the large vineyard. We both have Pair Eyewear glasses with magnets on the front, so we got creative with the toppers to create a partial eclipse effect. Not safe for solar viewing! However, Linda attached proper solar viewing glasses to a pink prominence-colored topper so she could quickly pop them on and off. Alex’s outfit would not be complete without his signature flame shoes.

Alex on the eclipse science panel
Alex on the eclipse science panel
Eclipse glasses - not safe for solar viewing
Eclipse glasses - not safe for solar viewing
Linda & Alex's Eclipse "fashion"
Linda & Alex's Eclipse "fashion"
Linda's crafty magnetic eclipse glasses
Linda's crafty magnetic eclipse glasses

What was your favorite part of the eclipse experience?

Please contact us if you would like to add your unique perspective to our website, social media, and/or privately. One of the best parts of the day was getting updates from our friends who were also witnessing the eclipse! We would also love to hear from people who witnessed this from other places. If you have a question about eclipses, aurora, heliophysics, the solar system and beyond, or other related topics, just ask! You can also follow along with daily space weather updates here.

Let’s do it again!

Overall, the eclipse was a success and again left everyone wanting more. Bring on the Sun and Moon! We are already thinking about Spain for the 2026 & 2027 eclipses, Chile Earth & Sky, and other great travel experiences. While we may never get to space, we can travel for space! Join us!!

Thank Yous

  • To Kathleen Richardson and Joe Golebieski for sharing your photos!
  • To Smithsonian Journeys (especially Alison McCarthy and Jennifer Kefer) for another top-notch adventure, showing off the beauty of Texas Hill Country. The detail of the flora and hidden grotto were remarkable!
  • To Steve Levine, for the perfect snack offerings, Dad jokes, the extra hiking pole, and for encouraging Linda to hike down & back! 
  • To Connie & Peter…Australia, Texas…let’s go for a third eclipse and visits in DC!
  • To the other experts, especially to my friends & colleagues, Richard, Michelle, and Steve W. 
  • To Becker Vineyards, thank you for a lovely afternoon. We are still smelling the lavender.
  • To our new friends, and all of the travelers who came together to make this event so special. We hope to see you on another journey!
  • To our old friends & family who watched and shared your excitement & experience with us…thank you for the universal connection!

Clear skies! #lookup
Alex & Linda


Watch the Eclipse Replays!

The Weather Channel

Did you catch C. Alex Young on the live show? TWC team was LIVE along the path of totality with interviews, weather updates & telescope feeds for the Total Solar Eclipse on Monday! Watch on The Weather Channel or stream on your favorite device at streamtwc.com. Stephanie Abrams had a similar view to us since she was also in Fredericksburg, TX. The clouds broke differently, and she saw the diamond ring. It just shows that you can be so close yet so far. ☀️🌑

McDonald Observatory

Associated Press