Apr 08 2024

Eclipse 2024

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I am currently in Dallas Texas waiting to see, hopefully, the 2024 total solar eclipse. This would be my first total eclipse, and everything I have heard indicates that it is an incredible experience. Unfortunately, the weather calls for some clouds, although forecasts have been getting a little better over the past few days, with the clouds being delayed. Hopefully there will be a break in the clouds during totality.

Actually there is another reason to hope for a good viewing. During totality the temperature will drop rapidly. This can cause changes in pressure that will temporarily disperse some types of clouds.

I am prepared with eclipse glasses, a pair of solar binoculars, and one of my viewing companions has a solar telescope. These are all certified and safe, and I have already used the glasses and binoculars extensively. You can use them to view the sun even when there is not an eclipse. With the binoculars you can see sunspots – it’s pretty amazing.

While we (me and the SGU crew including George Hrab and our tech guru, Ian) are in Dallas we put on three shows over the weekend, including recording two live episodes of the SGU. These were our biggest crowds ever for a live event, and included mostly people not from Texas. People from all over the world are here to see the eclipse.

I have to add, just because there is so much talk about this in the media, a clarification about the danger of viewing solar eclipses. You can view totality without protection and without danger. Also, during most of the partial eclipse, viewing the eclipse is no different than viewing the sun. It is dangerous to look directly at the sun. You should not do it as it can damage your retina.

But – we all live our lives without fearing accidentally staring at the sun, because it hurts and we naturally don’t do it. The only real danger of an eclipse is when most of the sun is covered, so that only a crescent of sun is visible. In this case the remaining amount of sun is not bright enough to trigger pain and cause us to look away. But that sliver of sun is still bright enough to damage your retina. So don’t look directly at a partial eclipse even if it is not painful. This includes locations out of the path of totality that will have a high degree of sun cover, or just before or after totality. That is when you want to use certified eclipse glasses (that are in good condition). During totality you do not need eclipse glasses, and you would see nothing but black anyway.

I will add updates here, and hopefully some pictures, once the eclipse happens.

Update: Well, despite weeks of bad weather reports and angst, we had clear skies in Dallas, and got to see the entire eclipse, including all of totality. Absolutely amazing. It is one of those wondrous natural phenomena that you have to experience in person.

During totality we were able to see multiple prominences, including one big one. Essentially this was a huge arc of red gas extending from the surface of the sun. Beautiful.

I would definitely recommend planning a trip to a future total solar eclipse. It will be worth it.

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