The last total solar eclipse seen in the United States was in 2017. That year, the eclipse went north of Texas; however, Texas is in the line of totality for the next one scheduled on April 8, 2024. See the list of Texas wineries that are having special watch events for the eclipse.
Much of central Texas will fall in the eclipse’s path of totality. This includes major cities like San Antonio, Austin, and the Metroplex. That also means a good swath of Texas wine country will be in this path, even more so than the recent Ring of Fire eclipse in Oct. 2023.
Those on the path of totality will enjoy quite a show. The moon’s shadow will completely cover the sun. At its height, the sky will grow dark, much like it would at dawn or dusk; this will last a few minutes.
The entirety of the eclipse will happen just after noon and last until around 3 p.m. in Texas, depending on one’s location. For Fredericksburg specifically, it will begin around 12:15 p.m. and last until 2:56 p.m. The total eclipse runs for nearly five minutes, starting around 1:30 p.m. To check a specific time, such as Fredericksburg, see the interactive map by Xavier M. Jubier.
The eclipse will move through several phases, starting with first contact, when the moon’s shadow first reaches the sun. The whole event takes quite a while, while the totality is only a few minutes of the entire event.
A partial eclipse takes place before and after totality. As the moon moves in front of the sun, it leaves a crescent shape much like a partial moon. During this time, it is important to use protective eyewear or an indirect method to look at the sun.
During the partial eclipse, especially just before and after totality, viewers may see shadow bands, Baily’s Beads, and the Diamond Ring. Due to the nature of the light, it is important to remain protected while viewing these phenomena. The shadow bands occur alongside buildings; they are a white space with black bands on either side. Baily’s Beads occur as the eclipse nears totality; small points of light appear found along the edge of the shadow. The Diamond Ring is the bright line along the edge of shadow just before it fully engulfs the sun.
For Texas, during the total eclipse, there is no direct sunlight. During this time, a pink circle may show around the moon, as well as the sun’s corona (which is normally not visible due to the bright face of the sun). During totality, the temperature drop, and the natural world grows quiet as the world experiences a sudden sunset during the middle of the day. It is safe to view this without protective wear, but it is recommended that one only does so briefly. If the light comes back while looking at the eclipse, it could cause severe eye damage.
As mentioned, one should take safety precautions. Looking directly at the total eclipse may be safe, but anytime there is light (before and after totality), protective eyewear or other means are necessary to protect one’s eyes. The most common form of protection is protective eyewear. Many events provide these (check the listings), and they can be purchased online cheap (I got a set on Amazon for only a few dollars). Of course, if, like me, you still have your glasses from the Ring of Fire, you are ready to go.
Telescopes, binoculars, or cameras can also suffer damage during the partial eclipse stages. They do not act as protection and using them without a filter can cause the lens’ filter to burn. However, if these items are outfitted with a solar filter, they will be fine for pictures and watching the eclipse.
There are other methods to watch the eclipse via indirect methods. These can be a pinhole projector—easily constructed from a box, white paper, and aluminum foil. Using other items with holes can allow you to project the sun onto another surface as they create crescent shapes. This was an amazing thing to see during the Ring of Fire. The trees overhead cast crescent shadows on the ground.
The main advice is to sit back and enjoy. During totality, especially, it is best to let everyone gathered experience the moment; this includes the event staff. I was lucky enough to view the Ring of Fire at Lewis Wines with almost no one there; the staff on-hand joined the small group outside to watch the event. It made for a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
Information on the eclipse was sourced from NASA’s 2024 Total Eclipse website.