Chasing Shadows: The Spectacular Total Solar Eclipse of 2024

March 8, 2024

Chasing Shadows: The Spectacular Total Solar Eclipse of 2024

Learn About the Celestial Spectacle Coming to a Sky Near You

Imagine standing under a darkened sky in broad daylight, the air cooling as the world around you is bathed in an ethereal twilight. This magical moment is brought to life by none other than a total solar eclipse, a rare celestial event that never fails to captivate hearts and minds. In the vast cosmic dance of our solar system, few events capture the imagination quite like a total solar eclipse. It's a celestial spectacle that brings together science enthusiasts, astronomers, and curious onlookers alike. 

As we look forward to the April 8th total solar eclipse, astronomers and skywatchers are gearing up for this extraordinary event that promises to be nothing short of breathtaking. Join us as we delve into the significance, the science, and the societal impact of this awe-inspiring event.

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Why 2024's Total Solar Eclipse Is Significant

Total solar eclipses are relatively rare events that occur when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, casting its shadow on the Earth's surface. What makes the total solar eclipse of 2024 particularly noteworthy is its path of totality. Stretching across North America, from Mexico to Canada, this eclipse will be accessible to millions of people, providing an unparalleled opportunity to witness this cosmic phenomenon.


The Science Behind a Solar Eclipse

Understanding the mechanics behind a solar eclipse adds depth to the experience of witnessing one. At its core, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's shadow falls on the Earth's surface, obscuring the Sun either partially or entirely. The alignment of the Sun, Moon, and Earth must be precise for a total solar eclipse to occur. During totality, the Sun's corona, its outer atmosphere, becomes visible, revealing intricate structures and phenomena that are otherwise hidden from view.

How Often Does a Total Solar Eclipse Occur?

While solar eclipses happen with some regularity, total solar eclipses are relatively rare events. On average, a total solar eclipse is visible from any given location on Earth approximately once every 375 years. However, due to the Earth's rotation and the Moon's orbit, total solar eclipses occur somewhere on Earth roughly every 18 months. This frequency, combined with the accessibility of the 2024 eclipse's path of totality, makes it an event of particular significance.


The path of totality and partial contours crossing the U.S. for the 2024 total solar eclipse occurring on April 8, 2024—NASA Scientific Visualisation Studio 

Where Will the Solar Eclipse Be Visible?

One of the most exciting aspects of the total solar eclipse of 2024 is its extensive path of totality, which will traverse North America from southwest to northeast. Cities such as Mazatlán, Mexico; Austin, Texas; Corsicana, Texas—home of Collin Street Bakery; Dallas, Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Cleveland, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; and Montreal, Canada, will all experience moments of complete darkness as the Moon's shadow passes overhead. This widespread accessibility ensures that millions of people will have the opportunity to witness this celestial spectacle firsthand.

For those individuals viewing the total solar eclipse in our hometown of Corsicana, Texas, the event should take place at approximately 1:40 PM CST. To follow the Eclipse’s path of totality and estimate visibility times for all of North America, click here


What is the difference between solar, lunar, and annular eclipses? 

There are two types of eclipses, solar and lunar, each with three unique variations: total, partial, and annular/penumbral. Each variation of eclipse possesses its own unique set of characteristics. 

Solar eclipses occur when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, casting its shadow on our planet. Within this category, there are three distinct types, each offering a unique spectacle to observers on Earth.

  • Total Solar Eclipse: When the Moon aligns perfectly with the Sun, completely blocking its light and casting a shadow on the Earth.
  • Partial Solar Eclipse: When the Moon only partially covers the Sun, creating a crescent shape as it moves across its surface, the sky darkens but not as dramatically as during a total solar eclipse.
  • Annular Solar Eclipse—aka "The Ring of Fire": When the Moon is positioned slightly farther from the Earth than during a total eclipse. As a result, the Moon appears smaller in the sky, leaving a ring of sunlight, known as the "ring of fire," around its edges.

Lunar eclipses, on the other hand, occur when the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, casting its shadow on the lunar surface. Like solar eclipses, lunar eclipses come in three distinct varieties, each with its own captivating qualities.

  • Total Lunar Eclipse—aka "The Blood Moon": When the Earth's shadow, known as the umbra, completely covers the Moon, turning it a striking shade of red or coppery orange. This phenomenon, often referred to as a "blood moon," occurs because the Earth's atmosphere refracts sunlight, filtering out shorter wavelengths of light and allowing longer wavelengths, such as red and orange, to reach the Moon. Total lunar eclipses are visible from anywhere on the Earth's night side where the Moon is above the horizon during the eclipse, making them accessible to a wide audience of observers.
  • Partial Lunar Eclipse: When only a portion of the Moon passes into the Earth's umbra, resulting in a partial darkening of its surface.
  • Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: When the Moon passes through the Earth's penumbral shadow, resulting in a subtle shading of its surface. Penumbral eclipses are often difficult to detect with the naked eye.

How Often Do Solar & Lunar Eclipses Take Place? 

The frequency of each type of eclipse varies due to several factors, including the orbits and positions of the Sun, Earth, and Moon. Here's a general overview of how frequently each type of eclipse occurs.

  • Total Solar Eclipse: Total solar eclipses are relatively rare events that occur approximately once every 1-2 years somewhere on Earth. However, the path of totality, where a total solar eclipse is visible, covers only a small portion of the Earth's surface and can vary with each eclipse.
  • Partial Solar Eclipse: Partial solar eclipses are more common than total eclipses and occur several times per year somewhere on Earth. Since the Moon's shadow only partially covers the Sun, partial eclipses are visible from a broader area than total eclipses.
  • Annular Solar Eclipse: Annular solar eclipses are less common than partial eclipses but more common than total eclipses. They occur approximately every 1-2 years and are visible from specific regions along the eclipse path.
  • Total Lunar Eclipse: Total lunar eclipses occur, on average, about twice a year. However, visibility varies depending on the location of the Earth's shadow and the phase of the Moon.
  • Partial Lunar Eclipse: Partial lunar eclipses are more common than total eclipses and occur several times per year. They occur when only a portion of the Moon passes through the Earth's shadow.
  • Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: Penumbral lunar eclipses are the most common type of lunar eclipse and can occur multiple times per year. They are often subtle and may not be easily distinguishable to the naked eye.

Overall, while some types of eclipses occur more frequently than others, all types provide unique opportunities for observing and studying celestial phenomena.

The Economic & Community Impact of Astrological Phenomenons 

The arrival of a total solar eclipse brings with it a flurry of economic activity and community engagement. Cities and towns within the path of totality often experience an influx of visitors eager to witness the event in person. Hotels, restaurants, and local businesses see a surge in customers as travelers descend upon the area to secure prime viewing spots. Additionally, communities often organize events and festivals centered around the eclipse, further boosting local economies and fostering a sense of camaraderie among residents and visitors alike.

Beyond the immediate economic impact, total solar eclipses also provide opportunities for scientific research and education. Astronomers and researchers seize the opportunity to study the Sun's corona and gather valuable data about solar phenomena. Schools and educational institutions use the eclipse as a teaching moment, engaging students in hands-on learning about astronomy, physics, and the natural world.

Planning on visiting Corsicana, Texas, for the solar eclipse? Check out our blog detailing fun activities and exciting attractions you’ll want to check out—
Fun Things To Do In Corsicana, Texas


How to View a Solar Eclipse Safely

Viewing a solar eclipse can be a mesmerizing experience, but it's essential to take precautions to protect your eyes and ensure a safe viewing experience. According to NASA’s Solar Eclipse Safety webpage, “Except during the brief total phase of a total solar eclipse, when the Moon completely blocks the Sun’s bright face, it is not safe to look directly at the Sun without specialized eye protection for solar viewing. Viewing any part of the bright Sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics will instantly cause severe eye injury.

Therefore, take proper precautions when viewing April 8th’s event. Here are some important points to keep in mind:

  1. Use Certified Solar Viewing Glasses: The most crucial precaution when viewing a solar eclipse is to protect your eyes from the intense sunlight. Use special-purpose solar filters or eclipse glasses specifically designed for viewing the Sun safely. These glasses should meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. Regular sunglasses, homemade filters, or improvised solutions like smoked glass are not safe for viewing the Sun.
  2. Inspect Your Glasses: Before using solar viewing glasses, inspect them for any damage, such as scratches, holes, or tears. If there are any signs of damage, do not use them, as they may not provide adequate protection.
  3. Wear Proper Eye Protection: If you don't have access to certified solar viewing glasses, use alternative methods to view the eclipse safely. One option is to use a pinhole projector, sometimes called a pinhole camera or Camera Obscura, which projects an image of the Sun onto a surface, allowing you to view the eclipse indirectly. You can also use solar filters on telescopes, binoculars, or cameras to observe the eclipse safely. Materials and instructions for how to create your own at-home pinhole camera can be found below.  
  4. Do NOT Look Directly at the Sun: You should never look directly at the Sun without proper eye protection, even during a solar eclipse. The intense solar radiation can cause permanent eye damage, including solar retinopathy, which occurs when the Sun's rays damage the retina.
  5. Supervise Children & Pets: Ensure children are closely supervised and understand the importance of proper eye protection when viewing the eclipse. Children should not be allowed to look directly at the Sun without appropriate safety measures in place. Place pets indoors, as solar phenomena can be disorienting.
  6. Avoid Photography Risks: If you plan to photograph the eclipse, take precautions to protect your camera equipment and your eyes. Use solar filters on your camera lens to prevent damage to the camera sensor, and avoid looking through the camera viewfinder without proper eye protection. Be certain to buy NASA-approved solar filters from reputable sources only.
  7. Be Aware of Fake Glasses: Only purchase solar viewing glasses from reputable sources to ensure they meet safety standards. Be cautious of counterfeit or uncertified glasses that may not provide adequate protection. Click here to check your solar viewing glasses and ensure they are safe. 

By following these precautions, you can safely enjoy the spectacle of a solar eclipse without risking damage to your eyes or equipment. Remember to plan ahead, obtain proper eye protection, and take the necessary steps to ensure a memorable and safe viewing experience.

How to Make a Pin Hole Camera to View A Solar Eclipse 

Making a pinhole camera is a simple and effective way to view a solar eclipse safely. Here's a step-by-step guide to creating your own pinhole camera. 

Materials Needed

A small, sturdy cardboard box (such as a shoe or cereal box)

Aluminum foil

Tape (preferably black electrical tape)

Scissors or a craft knife

A piece of white paper

A pin or needle


Start by selecting a cardboard box that is sturdy enough to hold its shape and has a lid that can be completely closed. A shoe or cereal box works well for this purpose.


Using your scissors or a craft knife, cut a small square or rectangle out of one side of the box. This will serve as the viewing screen for your pinhole camera.


Cut a piece of aluminum foil slightly larger than the square you just cut into the corner of the box. Place the foil over the square and secure it with tape along all four edges. Make certain the foil is flat and smooth, with no wrinkles or creases.


Using a pin or needle, carefully poke a small hole in the center of the aluminum foil. This will act as the pinhole through which the sunlight will pass.


With the lid of the box closed, position the pinhole camera so that the sunlight shines through the pinhole created in the foil. This will cause an image to project onto the opposite side of the box. 


Place a piece of white paper inside the box opposite the pinhole, where the image will be projected. Adjust the position of the paper until you see a sharp, focused image of the Sun.


Once you have adjusted the pinhole camera to your satisfaction, you can safely observe the solar eclipse by looking at the projected image on the white paper inside the box. Do not look directly at the Sun through the pinhole, as this can cause eye damage.


Enjoy the eclipse! As the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, you will see the image of the Sun gradually become obscured by the Moon's silhouette, creating a fascinating display of celestial motion.

With your homemade pinhole camera, you can safely view and enjoy the beauty of a solar eclipse without risking damage to your eyes. Remember to share this experience with friends and family, and consider taking photographs of the projected image to capture the moment for posterity.

Mark Your Calendars for This Year’s Total Solar Eclipse

As April 8th approaches, anticipation builds for the total solar eclipse. From the scientific marvel of celestial mechanics to the economic and community impact felt by cities and towns along the eclipse's path, this event serves as a reminder of the wonder and interconnectedness of our universe. Whether you're a seasoned astronomer or a casual observer, don't miss your chance to witness this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle. Mark your calendars, gather your eclipse glasses, and prepare to be awed by the beauty of nature's cosmic ballet.


While You’re in Town, Visit a Collin Street Bakery Café

While you’re in town to witness the solar event of the decade, plan a trip to one of our two bright and spacious Cafés located right here in Corsicana, Texas. Known for our immaculately kept dining rooms and friendly staff, our Cafés are the perfect place to stop for a quick bite. Order from our menu of homemade soups, garden-fresh salads, artisan sandwiches, and signature coffee creations. Plus, enjoy free WIFI at any location and Tesla charging stations at select Cafés. Click below to get directions to our 7th Avenue and I-45 Café locations.


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