With Sky & Telescope’s editors and writers scattered across the eclipse path, we have dozens of stories to share. Here are a few.

The total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8th, drew crowds throughout North America. Even observers in regions far from the path of totality experienced a partial eclipse.

Several Sky & Telescope editors and contributing editors watched the eclipse — below, read their reports from across the U.S. and Mexico. Share your experience in the comments!

In Aquilla, Texas

The forecasts looked bleak for us here at the Texas Star Party event in Aquilla, Texas. We spent the weekend anxiously comparing weather models. One forecast said we’d be skunked, another gave us 50% cloud cover . . . Even Monday morning, the forecasts weren’t converging. Some attendees packed up and skedaddled for spots with better prospects, depending on their favorite weather website.

But by midmorning, the clouds over the Latham Springs Camp and Retreat Center had become patchy. Conditions held steady as totality approached. About a half hour before second contact, barn swallows abandoned their normal leisurely flights and perched, huddled and tense, under the auditorium’s eaves. Colors dimmed, dogs barked, and shadows faded.

a man reclines in an outdoor chair wearing eclipse glasses in front of a building and a sky with clouds
An attendee enjoys the eclipse in comfort and style at the Texas Star Party event.
Camille Carlisle / Sky & Telescope

Then, with celestial drama, totality began! Jupiter and Venus flanked the brilliant corona — it was so bright near the lunar limb that I momentarily questioned whether totality had actually begun. A magnificent solar prominence appeared like a red curl near the 5 o’clock position. It was so large that it was easily visible with the naked eye.

a small yellow disk above the silhouette of a tree against a dark sky with clouds scattered on the left
Jupiter (left) and Venus sandwich the eclipsed Sun in this image, taken with an iPhone on a tripod with a remote shutter. (Venus is just above the foliage.)
Camille Carlisle / S&T

— Camille M. Carlisle, S&T Science Editor


Totality in Dardanelle, Arkansas

a dark circle with a halo of light around it
Image taken with an Astro-Physics 92-mm Stowaway refractor and Canon 70D DSLR camera. 1/250 second.
Sean Walker / Sky & Telescope

Despite early predictions that Arkansas would be disappointed, we had fabulous conditions leading up to and through totality. At about 1:20 p.m., we began to see crescent Suns projected through pinhole projectors. Some thin clouds surrounded the Sun during totality, though they didn’t detract from a spectacular view of multiple coronal streamers, particularly a long one from the northwest limb (top left of image). Not 15 seconds into totality, Jane Walker drew everyone’s attention to a vivid, pink prominence on the south limb. Baily’s Beads were seen at both second and third contacts. It was overall a very active corona.

a large black circle with a thin ring of light around it and small pink prominennces on the right side
Baily’s Bead burst forth from the Moon’s trailing limb following the last moment of totality.
Sean Walker / Sky & Telescope

— Sean Walker, S&T Associate Editor


Aboard the ms Zaandam in the Pacific Ocean west of Mazatlán, Mexico

I shuddered and choked back tears when the Moon quenched the last bead of sunlight to reveal the beautiful and strange sight of totality overhead. Silky spikes of eerie silvery-yellow corona crowned the black disk of the Moon. People were shouting and screaming for joy, which for me only magnified the eclipse’s tremendous emotional impact.

Bob King

No one who saw totality will forget the brilliant, hot-pink prominence along the southwestern lunar limb. I’ve observed the Sun in hydrogen-alpha light many times, but this single, massive tongue of flame appeared far brighter and more vivid than any filtered prominence. Jupiter and Venus were obvious in the watercolor-blue sky. Shadow bands rippled across the ship’s deck for many seconds both before and after totality. Incredibly, totality seemed to last a long time — something I’ve never experienced before. Maybe that was because I looked more and photographed less.

a dark circle with a small ring of light around it
Bob King / Sky & Telescope

I absolutely loved it. And when totality had passed, I wanted to hug everyone, and proceeded to do so! I can’t tell you how good that felt.

people look up at the darkened sky in a field and see a small white circle with a black circle inside of it overhead
Bob King / Sky & Telescope

A short while later, a huge cheer rose from our group. I walked over to see that the ship’s captain had come up to visit. People were wild with gratitude for his foresight and skill in changing course so we’d be guaranteed clear skies.

— Bob King, S&T Contributing Editor


In Mazatlán, Mexico

High, thin clouds did nothing to mar our view from Mazatlán, Mexico. Partial phases were clearly visible and created crescent shapes beneath palm trees and the eclipse art my daughter and I made, using a pushpin to punch tiny holes along pencil-drawn lines. We waited breathlessly as the golden crescent in our eclipse glasses thinned — not least because I wasn’t sure whether we would see the corona through the clouds. I needn’t have worried! The corona was surprisingly bright, several streamers framing the Sun. At the 5 o’clock position, a brilliant pink filament appeared to leap off the edge of the Moon. Minutes became seconds and the diamond ring reappeared. I just glimpsed the beads of liquid light melting together into a thin sliver before retreating behind eclipse glasses. Cheers resounded across neighborhoods, a ship’s captain laid on their horn, and a Mexican band started up in celebration. Daylight had returned. 

small dots on light in patterns against a light blue background
Thumbtack holes turned pencil drawings made earlier in the morning into eclipse art.
Monica Young / Sky & Telescope

— Monica Young, S&T News Editor


Totality After All in Fredericksburg, Texas

a large group of people pose for a photo taken from above
More than 200 eclipse-chasers from all across the U.S. — plus Canada, Scotland, and New Zealand — gather for a group photo before the solar eclipse at a private viewing site in Fredericksburg,Texas.
Johnny Horne / Sky & Telescope

For days leading up to the eclipse, our 220-strong Texas tour feared that a massive storm system would completely wipe out our viewing chances. Rain was all but certain. But with each day came a slightly better forecast, and by the time we arrived at our private viewing site in Fredericksburg, the optimism was palpable as low clouds dissipated and revealed big swaths of blue sky. But after nice early views of the partial phases, thicker clouds returned. The situation looked bad. Then, almost miraculously, a thinning overhead let us witness the first diamond ring, followed by veiled but still-dramatic views throughout totality. All too soon, towering prominences on the western limb heralded the second diamond ring. And, with that, the cloudy curtain closed in and ended the show, leaving nothing but impenetrable gray overhead. I still don’t know what caused the clouds to part, but deep down we all knew that Mother Nature had done us a great favor.

TSE 2024 prominence and chromosphere
Toward the end of totality, dramatic prominences and a brilliant strip of chromosphere appeared on the lower-right edge of the eclipsed Sun. Image taken with Stellarvue 80-mm f/7 refractor and Nikon D5500 camera.
J. Kelly Beatty / Sky & Telescope

— J. Kelly Beatty, S&T Senior Editor


My wife Halina and I were on a Sky & Telescope/Insight Cruises tour that viewed the eclipse from Swallows Eve in Fredericksburg, Texas.  We were bracing ourselves for disappointment, since thick clouds had covered the sky all day and things looked bleak. Spirits rose a bit during lunch as the clouds had thinned and a few patches of blue could be seen.  As the eclipse progressed from first contact, the clouds returned, and we were all holding our breath and preparing for the worst.  It looked hopeless, but, somehow, totality found an opening. We enjoyed the full 4 minutes of totality and considered ourselves luckier than we had dared to hope.

— Ted Forte, S&T Contributing editor


Clouded Out in Canandaigua, New York

After a beautiful sunny Sunday and clear forecasts for the following day here at our campsite in Canandaigua, New York, we woke to gray clouds and a dismal outlook. The Sun started peeking out here and there as we approached the start of the eclipse, so with one eye on the forecasts, we decided to break out the telescopes just in case the sky opened up. At first contact, we managed to snatch a few glimpses of the Moon beginning to move across the face of the Sun, but it quickly dove behind cloud cover again shortly after. We anxiously watched the forecasts for the next hour as the clouds were still moving quite quickly, but unfortunately, the Sun did not reappear. As we approached totality, the sky slowly darkened, and the drop in temperature sent us diving for our coats. Full darkness settled in shortly after, but we never saw the Moon cover the Sun. However, we did get to see the swath of darkness approaching us from the west and then heading east. My cousin said it was like “fast-forwarding through the day-night cycle in a video game.” The solar-powered lights turned on, and the birds, who had been cheery and talkative up until that point, had gone silent. A frightened pair of doves were frantically flopping through the air above our RV, startled by the sudden midday darkness. They weren’t sure where to find their nest, and they remained perched in a nearby tree well after totality had ended, likely afraid to leave. Shortly after third contact, light bathed the campground again, and it began to rain. So, disappointed, we hurried our equipment back inside.

people stand in front of an RV in semi-darkness
Three generations of the Greeley family watching cloudy skies as totality hit in Canandaigua, New York.
Sabrina Garvin / Sky & Telescope

— Sabrina Garvin, S&T Editorial Assistant


Perfect Totality in Island Falls, Maine

I parked myself on a golf course in northeastern Maine by the Slice Restaurant, whose owners offered free parking and a warm welcome. Not a cloud in the sky, which is absurd for Maine at this time of year, and especially this winter/early spring, when it’s been cloudy or rainy for weeks on end. "I don’t want to jinx it, but it’s looking pretty good,” Matt Lapinski, who works in marketing in Austin, Texas, told me smilingly before first contact. Matt was part of two separate groups I spoke with who, seeing iffy weather prospects back home, had dashed up from Texas at the eleventh hour.

A crisp breeze, snow still about, but near 60°F by totality so quite pleasant. Perhaps 100 people all around, some with impressive cameras or scopes. We enjoyed 3 minutes 18 seconds of totality, which naturally felt like a minute. It all went so fast it was hard to keep up, but I savored the sudden twilight at second contact and a blazing diamond ring at third contact. The corona was magnificent, of course. Most spectacular of all were the prominences, including a necklace along the lower limb like pink Baily’s Beads, plus a huge prominence nearby like an upside-down V. V for Victory, you might say, having waited so long and traveled so far for this jaw-dropping celestial wonder.

a landscape in low light with a bright orb at the top with a black circle in the middle of it
Peter Tyson / Sky & Telescope

— Peter Tyson, S&T Editor in Chief


Livestreaming from Junction, Texas

The off-site campus of Texas Tech University at Junction was a hive of activity on the morning of April 8th. The skies were clearing nicely, and anticipation buzzed in the air. Exploratorium had an impressive setup on the viewing field — they had an intricate show planned that they were broadcasting far and wide. Every hour on the hour University of Montana researchers launched balloons carrying sensors into the upper atmosphere.

Balloon launch at Junction
Researchers from the University of Montana launched balloons every hour on the hour for 30 hours for NASA's Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project. Here they're launching on the afternoon before the eclipse.
Diana Hannikainen / Sky & Telescope

Eclipse Ambassadors chaperoned by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific had their hands full, enlightening hundreds of students on the mechanics of eclipses, while TTU’s own wildlife biologists were busy setting up detectors in the surrounding environment. For my part, I’d been invited to Junction by TTU professor Tom Maccarone to comment on the livestream event they had set up for those not able to travel to the path of totality. We were having a blast, discussing the eclipse, answering questions in the chat, while TTU graduate student John Morales translated into Spanish. As the initial partial phases progressed, TTU’s mariachi band struck up joyous tunes. The atmosphere was festive.

April 8 Junction, TX
Eclipse Ambassadors were on hand to demonstrate the mechanics of eclipses to hundreds of middle- and high-school students. Here, a small group have their eyes on the initial partial phases when skies were still tantalizingly clear.
Diana Hannikainen / Sky & Telescope

And then, a quarter hour before totality, calamity struck. Thick, menacing clouds rolled in and parked themselves in front of the Sun for about 20 minutes. You can all do the math — yup, we were clouded out. I did catch a glimpse of totality, but it was fleeting. However, the whoops emitted by young, first-time eclipse-viewers as darkness rushed in and their astonishment at the experience will be a precious memory I’ll hold on to forever.

Note: After the event, as reports started trickling in from the surrounding area, it transpires that our viewing field had created its own microclimate of clouds — people had witnessed totality a mere two miles away!

— Diana Hannikainen, S&T Observing Editor


In Evening Shade, Arkansas

Since my hometown of Evening Shade, Arkansas, was just 2 miles from the centerline, I couldn’t help but organize a watch party at the Gymnasium. It was also a family affair with my younger brother being a NASA-partnered Eclipse Ambassador and the rest of my family pitching in on the big day. It turned out to be a wonderful success with only light cirrus clouds near the horizon during totality — which was great, since easily half our crowd was from out-of-state (not to mention a few international guests)! Plus, I got to meet a friend for the first time who drove all the way from California. After having seen totality during the 2017 eclipse, my family was delighted to be able to share the same experience with so many others.

pieces of paper with pinholes in them spelling Eclipse Art on the gorund
Eclipse art.
Kyle Harrington

— Scott Harrington, S&T Contributing Editor


In Lake Waco, Texas

I accompanied a group of 35 Dutch tourists to Waywood Park at Lake Waco. They were in for a meteorological roller coaster of expectations, fears , and hopes. In the end, about the first half of totality was observed under perfect conditions, while the second half was unfortunately blocked by a thick cloud. Given the earlier weather predictions for the area, everyone was excited to witness the corona (and a couple of beautiful prominences) for at least as long as during the 2017 eclipse in Idaho. Thanks to the clouds, this was probably the most exciting (and stressful!) eclipse of the 16 totals I have experienced so far. As participant Gitta Noordermeer told me well after third contact, “I am still not recovered from the emotions!”

six orange disks showing different levels of coverage from a full circle to a thin crescent
A composite of six images shot between first and second contact (C1 and C2) with a Seestar S50 telescope.
Govert Schilling

— Govert Schilling, S&T Contributing Editor


In Québec, Canada

This was only the second total solar eclipse of the 17 I’ve seen that I was able to drive to (the first being in 2017), allowing me to take a carload of telescope and camera gear. But what a drive! I started out heading south for Texas from Alberta, but on the second day diverted back north to Canada to head east, ending up in southern Québec. The week-long cross-Canada chase to clear skies worked. I had a fabulous view over Lac Brome in the Eastern Townships south of Montreal. 

a landscape in low light with a small white circle with a black circle inside of it
Alan Dyer / Sky & Telescope

— Alan Dyer, S&T Contributing Editor


In Lyndonville, Vermont

Northern New England was supposed to have the worst weather prospects. Hah! The day dawned clear blue from horizon to horizon over the Northeast Kingdom region of Vermont. We set up early on a sports field at Vermont State College. Hour by hour, people poured in. Buses unloaded swarms of area high school students. One couple had flown from cloudy Texas, long touted as having the best clear-sky prospects.

The partially eclipsed Sun projected from a 6-inch f/5 Newtonian reflector in Vermont, April 8, 2024
Just after the big sunspot got covered.
Abby Hafer / Sky & Telescope

Shouts went up across the field as the first dent in the Sun’s limb slowly became apparent through eclipse glasses. I demonstrated solar projection from a 6-inch Newtonian reflector to people who’d had no idea such a thing was possible. But the best views were through filtered telescopes. There the big, elongated sunspot on projected images resolved into a tight pair of two spots with a thin line of light between. As the Moon’s black limb crept up to it, yes, the spot indeed showed itself to be less than fully dark by comparison.

The sunlight dimmed slowly at first, then faster as the landscape grew eerily silvery in the narrow crescent-shine. Shadows became weirdly sharp in one direction. Venus and Jupiter appeared through the deepening blue. The corona emerged some seconds before totality, then the last overpowering dazzle of the diamond-ring Sun rapidly faded right down and out! The crowd whooped and cheered.

By this time thin clouds had started to mar the perfect blue. Was this why the corona showed less streaky detail than I expected? Or was the corona really less of a tangly hairdo this time because we’re nearing solar maximum? No one complained!

And those prominences, blazing brilliant pink-red in hydrogen-alpha emission! The next time you see an innocent little “e” at the end of a star’s spectral type, signifying emission lines, remember that this is the incredibly spectacular color it mostly means. The highlight of this eclipse for me will always be that great pyramid of brilliant pink loops on one limb, foreshortened and full of detail.    

To avoid the traffic jams afterward we spent an hour bumping over little dirt roads to arrive at a barn party put on by old friends, where we celebrated and reminisced deep into the night. Stepping outside, the Coma Berenices star cluster was a mass of speckles on black as seen with averted vision, and the head of Hydra was plain as could be. The night is still dark over the Northeast Kingdom.

And, of course, there was no Moon.

— Alan MacRobert / S&T Senior Editor

Pinhole projections of the partially eclipsed crescent Sun. Lyndonville, Vermont; April 8, 2024
Pinhole crescent art has definitely become a thing.
Abby Hafer / Sky & Telescope

Comments


Image of Robert-Casey

Robert-Casey

April 9, 2024 at 3:36 pm

Some time in the far future, we might be able to see total eclipses on the moons of Saturn https://www.wa2ise.com/space/saturneclipse1.jpg

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Anthony Barreiro

April 9, 2024 at 6:00 pm

I was at Fredericksburg Texas with Kelly's group. I had several brief views of the second partial phase, and I enjoyed experiencing the steadily brightening sunlight (despite the thick clouds) and listening to the birds' dawn chorus.

Thanks to Kelly and everyone who worked on the tour for taking good care of us and giving us the best possible experience.

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Image of Elliot-Lepler

Elliot-Lepler

April 9, 2024 at 6:51 pm

We planned to watch from Fredericksburg TX, but the latest forecast indicated clear skies 40 miles northwest in Mason. So we drove there and had nearly clear skies. Some very thin high clouds and a few scattered wisps lower. Totality was spectacular. We sacrificed 30 seconds of duration for a great view.
I have seen the corona 10 times (3x clouded out) and the prominence at the lower right was by far the brightest I had every seen. It rivaled Jupiter in brightness and I thought it was a solar flare caught in the act.

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467ParkAinslie

April 11, 2024 at 11:22 am

Started the day with clear blue skies at Ouabache State Park just outside Bluffton, Indiana. Haze and cirrus rolled in as the nearby parking lot filled up -- I saw license plates from 10 states (spanning SC to AZ to MN) in our little park that usually only sees people from the next county over! We even had visitors from Ireland, Wales and England.
I brought 15x70 binoculars on a parallelogram mount, which were hugely popular - people were lined up during partial eclipse taking cell phone photos. The haze didn't spoil the view (unless you wanted to see stars or Comet Pons-Brooks); it might even have made that wonderful triangular prominence shown in so many photos easier to see with the naked eye.

We had fun playing with pinhole projection too. "Frankenbox" (a viewer made of nested cardboard boxes, with a waxed-paper projection surface reflected in a mirror so several people could look at once) took a small group to operate, but gave us images about the size of a quarter. In a park full of leafless trees, we found one red maple that was so full of flowers that it had crescents underneath it during partial eclipse. No luck with evergreens, but they were all white pines -- things might have been different if we'd had any short-needled conifers around.

This was the first solar eclipse that I did NOT experience Ainslie's Corollary to Sperling's Eight-Second Law ("The last minute before totality lasts one solid hour"). Just too busy. Didn't even put on the eclipse glasses much... but that meant I got to see the moon's conical shadow as it came and went. Wonderful!

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jmr

April 14, 2024 at 9:28 am

Thanks so much -

My three plans to see the TSE all failed - Austin, Idabel OK, and Indianapolis, the latter when I arrived at the Richmond Va airport for my 8 am April 8 departure and found that my ticket was booked for May 8, and it was too late to re-book. Would've been # 5 for me - 1970, (North Carolina), 1973 (Mauritania), 1979 (Riverton Manitoba) and 2017 (Wyoming). Broke my perfect record by not getting to central zone!

Your news and pics are fun to read and see!
John Roberts

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Bill Reyna

April 15, 2024 at 10:44 pm

Not sure if Idabel would have worked out for you.
I was just getting ready to set up at the water treatment plant when the low 1500' ceiling clouds rolled in, confirmed by satellite images.
I high tailed it to Ola, Arkansas for a virtually clear sky and only had about 30 minutes to set up 6000' from center line.
Bill Reyna
TSE #7

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Michael Borman

April 25, 2024 at 5:29 pm

I observed the total eclipse from the back deck of my house in Evansville, Indiana. At dawn on the 8th we had fog so heavy that I could not see my neighbor's house. Fortunately, the fog burned off by noon and the sky was completely clear when the eclipse started at 12:46pm CDT. Totality started here at 2:02 pm CDT and lasted for 3 minutes and 19 seconds. My weather station recorded a 5 degree temperature drop during the eclipse. I observed totality with my 15x50 Canon image stabilized binoculars. Was surprised at how bright that triangular shaped prominence was. I also took pictures of the partial phases with a ZWO Seestar S50 telescope and in H-alpha with my Coronado SM70 III DS scope. I shot totality through a Astrotech 92mm refractor with my Canon Rp mirrorless camera. I used my laptop running Astrophotography Tool software to control the exposures on the camera. My pictures from the eclipse can be found here:
https://mborman.org/eclipse040824.htm
I also made a 360 degree timelapse during totality with my Ricoh Theta X camera. Pretty cool to see the Moon's shadow pass overhead in the timelapse.

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