The total solar eclipse of 8 April 2024

From 1 to 14 April 2024, I accompanied a Studiosus group together with my colleague Stefan Seip to observe the total solar eclipse in the US. We travelled from Dallas via Austin and San Antonio to Galveston on the Gulf of Mexico and on to Houston and NASA’s Johnson Space Center. We observed the solar eclipse in Fredericksburg under difficult conditions, but were able to experience the totality in its full length of 4 minutes and 24 seconds. Here are a few impressions of the eclipse and the journey.

Brief description of the eclipse observation:

On 8 April, the absolute highlight of our trip awaited us, the total solar eclipse no. 30 from the Saros cycle 139. We had already heard a lot about the eclipse from Stefan and Peter beforehand, but now it was time to actually observe and photograph the eclipse. As had been announced for a week, the forecast for the weather on 8 April had arrived and was anything but optimal. We therefore decided not to drive to Kerrville as originally planned, but to Fredericksburg, a little further north. At around 7:00 a.m., we found an ideal spot for observing the eclipse at the car park of the local Walmart. We set up our cameras and then began the uncertain wait, as the sky was mostly covered in clouds. Just in time for the first contact, however, the cloud cover cleared and the moon’s entry in front of the solar disc could be clearly observed from our position. Now we had to wait another hour for totality to begin. The weather did not improve, on the contrary, low clouds gathered and barely allowed a view of the darkening sun. It became more and more exciting as clouds continued to cover the sun and moon just before totality. Almost miraculously, the sky cleared almost completely at the beginning of totality and the phenomenon of the diamond ring appeared. Shortly afterwards, the light of the sun shone through the lunar valleys at the edge of the moon and the string of pearls could be seen. During totality, which lasted about 4 minutes and 24 seconds, it became really dark and numerous prominences at the edge of the sun could be seen in the famous red light of the H-alpha line of hydrogen. Even the inner corona of the sun was visible and we could also see Venus with the naked eye. Shortly after the end of totality, however, the sky closed its gates again and clouds covered the sun and moon until the end of the partial phase. However, this was no longer a tragedy, as we had experienced the highlight of totality perfectly and captured it on our cameras. An incredibly exciting and varied eclipse had come to a happy end for us.

Presentations of the lectures:

Here you can find the presentations that I gave during the trip. The presentations can be downloaded and used free of charge for private purposes at any time.