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Here’s where you can see both upcoming solar eclipses in Texas

From left, Shylo Faulkner, Vanessa Vaught, Diarmuid Mulvihill and Jolee Burkhart view a partial solar eclipse from downtown Austin in August 2017.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
From left, Shylo Faulkner, Vanessa Vaught, Diarmuid Mulvihill and Jolee Burkhart view a partial solar eclipse from downtown Austin in August 2017.

Texas will experience a celestial double feature soon, with not one but two solar eclipses visible within the next six months. First up is the “ring of fire” annular solar eclipse on Oct. 14, followed by a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.

There’s usually about 400 years between total solar eclipses in a given location, and thousands of years between two solar eclipses in a row. So, what’s the best way to watch this once-in-a-lifetime event? Jamie Carter, who covers astronomy for Space.com, shared the best viewing spots in the Lone Star State, plus what to expect:

What’s the difference between an annular solar eclipse and a total solar eclipse?

An annular – Latin for “ring” – eclipse is a ring-shaped, partial solar eclipse. A halo of light will be visible around the moon and must be seen through solar eclipse glasses, Carter said.

For a total solar eclipse, the peak of the event is about an hour and a half in.

“You will see the total solar eclipse, which is about 4 minutes, 4 1/2 minutes in Texas, where you will be able to look at the sun and the outer atmosphere of the sun with the naked eye perfectly safely,” Carter said. “But at all other times you must use the solar eclipse glasses.”

The whole process for both eclipses takes about three hours.

Where is the best place in Texas to be able to see both eclipses?

There’s a prime viewing area in the Hill Country, a square about 120 miles wide, that will see the paths of both eclipses cross.

Rocksprings, Junction, Fredericksburg, Kerrville, Bandera, Utopia, Vanderpool and Uvalde “are all places that will see both eclipses at the very best,” Carter said.

Not too far from the Hill Country, San Antonio will be a great place – and probably the easiest place to be – to see the Oct. 14 annular solar eclipse, Carter said.

“That’s where most people in Texas who see this will see it from,” he said. “I think there are going to be a lot of visitors flying into San Antonio to watch it as well.”

NASA/Scientific Visualization Studio/Michala Garrison; eclipse calculations by Ernie Wright, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

What will the viewing conditions be like for the eclipses?

It’s too far out to really know, Carter said – we won’t know actual conditions until a few days before – but the odds are particularly good for both: About 50% chance of a clear sky, which is necessary to be able to see anything.

“For the total, it will get dark regardless of cloud cover. So that’s something to enjoy, anyway,” he said. “But for the annular eclipse, you won’t actually see anything if it’s cloudy. So we’ll have to wait for the weather forecasts.”

What can we expect during the total solar eclipse?

As the sky gets dark over the course of five or 10 seconds, just before the whole of the sun is blocked out, the temperature will drop as well, Carter said. We’ll start to hear and see things that we never hear and see normally, like birds going into roost in the middle of the day.

“It’s really quite an eerie experience; it actually can be quite a scary experience as well. It’s the sun disappearing in the middle of the day,” he said. “It’s just such a strange thing for a human being to contemplate that you start to wonder if it’s ever going to come back. But of course it does.”

Copyright 2023 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Rhonda Fanning
Gabrielle Muñoz