Solar Eclipse Totality – Three Minutes of a Spectacular Sky

Solar Eclipse Totality as seen from Texas during the three minutes of totality by Carol Schiraldi of Carol's Little World
Photo by Carol Schiraldi, copyright 2024, “Totality Brightly,” total solar eclipse of 2024

Did you enjoy a view of the recent total solar eclipse? As luck would have it, I was situated right in the path of totality. Yup, it came right over Texas. I was right “in the zone” as it were, with my backyard enjoying over three minutes in totality.

Not all that Into You

This year, the eclipse was a bit odd for me. At first, I was not all that interested in it. It’s a spectacular event, yes, but I’ve seen one before, even photographed one before, and I just wasn’t that into it at first. Then, I kept hearing how this one was coming right over Texas, right where I live. Hello, Eclipse! How are you doing?

As it got closer to the date, people were going nuts. I heard about people flying in from afar and everybody going out to the Hill Country, near where I live, to get a better view. I think there was even a TV show being recorded out here. Wow. What can I say? It was turning into the event of the summer and I had a front row seat. Folks were going crazy, spending thousands on camera gear, getting telescopes. As a photographer, I don’t really want to photograph through a telescope. I don’t do much astronomy, although I love the night sky. The thing is, I love the night sky but it’s just pretty lights to me. As an artist, I love it but as a scientist? I prefer mechanics and electrical related items. Computers were more my bag, what can I say?

They Call it Stormy Monday?

Then there was the rain. At first they said it was going to rain a lot. Maybe we would not be able to see the eclipse at all? More reason not to participate in this event, right? Next, they said the rain might clear up, it might just be cloudy and not raining. Now, clouds with the eclipse? That might actually be cool. This is getting me interested. Meanwhile, people with telescopes are running around in the rose bushes. Excitement was building for the big event!

Checking the path of the eclipse, it kept getting updated a bit but was still slated to go right over my house. I was destined to be in totality for a long time. Almost four minutes of totality. Three minutes and change of a spectacular sky was headed my way. This made me want to get out my camera. Of course, by this time, I waited too long. There were no solar filters left.

Say Cheese

It’s rather complicated to photograph the eclipse, actually. Since the sun is so bright and the totality so dark it is best to use a special filter. A long lens also helps, since the sun is small in the sky and the planets are all far away. Everything looks small so you basically need a long lens with a special filter, a tripod, a cable release, and special glasses so you don’t go blind. It’s tricky that. Of course, being 2024, you can also get a cheesy filter for your iPhone and hope this works. This is what I did, since they were out of the filters for my DSLR camera. I do have a 200mm lens which is long but not that long (if you are wanted to shoot a future eclipse, I would suggest opting for a 500mm or so.) The folks in the know recommend I practice, which I did, using my cheesy iPhone filter and crazy paper glasses. I used the daytime sun and got a small blob to appear on my iPhone, indicating it worked. OK then, I’ll take your word for it here.

Go West Young Tourist, Go West!

Next, I had to figure out where to go. Basically, I live north and west of Austin proper. Most of the viewing parties were in Austin, which took me away from the path of totality. My house would afford me a better view. Out west was an option, as it got me more into the path of totality, but it is not without issues too. I wanted a clearing and this can be hard to find, not to mention I would be driving around, possibly hitting traffic which now consisted of lots of tourists, and there was still the potential of rain in the forecast. Better to be closer to home in the rain, right? I opted for the park near my house. It’s within walking distance and has a clearing.

Sky Show in the Park

On the day of the eclipse, I went to my local park and sat down on a bench. Many of my neighbors had gathered in the park, some of them brought blankets, a few had a BBQ, there were some dogs running around. It was an event, and luckily not too crowded right where I live. Crowds? Not so much but clouds? Yes, we got them. The clouds reduced our viewing time but we still got to see and experience the eclipse.

Feeling Small?

The sun is about 400 times larger than the Earth’s moon. The moon is small compared to the sun. The sun is bright and powerful. For one small moment in time, this sun, our great sun, was eclipsed by the moon. The little moon got in-between the Earth and the sun and created darkness in the daytime. On one Monday in April, the Earth’s moon eclipsed the sun.

An eclipse is an interesting metaphor. The next time you feel small and powerless, think about that. For three minutes, the little moon eclipsed the sun. The massive bright powerful sun was blocked. It was dark in the middle of the day. The moon blocked the sun in the sky. If the moon can block the sun, why, we should be able to do anything, right?

Pictures Because It Did Happen

Sharing some of my images today from my adventure with the great solar eclipse of 2024. In this one, the sun appears like a crescent moon during the time leading up to totality.

A slice of the sun from the total solar eclipse of 2024 by Carol Schiraldi
Photo by Carol Schiraldi, copyright 2024, “Like a Moon Slice,” solar eclipse of 2024

Next up, we have a darker version of totality. In this one, you can see the “diamond ring” starting to form on the left edge of the moon.

Solar eclipse totality taken during the 2024 eclipse by Carol Schiraldi
Photo by Carol Schiraldi, copyright 2024, “Totality, darker version,” solar eclipse of 2024

Next up, we have the red embers. I had heard these would be visible but never thought I would be able to capture them with my camera too, but here they are. You can read more about them in this article. They are actually plasma on the surface of the sun.

Red embers, plasma, during the total solar eclipse of 2024 by Carol Schiraldi
Photo by Carol Schiraldi, copyright 2024, “Red Embers,” during the total solar eclipse of 2024

I did manage to take out my DSLR camera too, and managed to get a few shots, using my 200mm lens. The clouds really inspired me. The light was also fantastic, even if my view of the eclipse was partially obscured by the clouds. It was a spectacular sky with wonderful light and that is perhaps the best part of the experience for me.

Crescent sun in a cloudy sky, taken during the total solar eclipse of 2024 by Carol Schiraldi in Texas.
Photo by Carol Schiraldi, copyright 2024, “Crescent Sun in dark patch of sky,” total solar eclipse of 2024

An eclipse really plays with light in strange ways. As a photographer, it’s something to experience, even if you do not have a telescope (or the funky glasses.) Shadows during the eclipse turned into crescent shapes. During part of the totality, I captured some of this as well.

Crescent shadows on the ground as seen during the total solar eclipse of 2024 by Carol Schiraldi of Carol's Little World.
Photo by Carol Schiraldi, copyright 2024, “Crescent Shadows on the Ground,” total solar eclipse of 2024

The sky during the eclipse really fascinated me. I took a lot of pictures of the clouds because the light was so interesting. I made this triptych showing the changes in the sky during the three minutes of totality. This shows you how the sky turned from dark to light as the moon passed in front of the sun.

Three minutes of totality during the total solar eclipse of 2024 as seen by Carol Schiraldi in Texas.
Photo by Carol Schiraldi, copyright 2024, “Three Minutes of Totality,” triptych from total solar eclipse of 2024

These are my views from the total solar eclipse of 2024. There are certain times that everybody remembers as they look back over history. September 11th, the “summer of Sam,” the day JFK was shot, and others too. I think the total solar eclipse of 2024 brought us together and, just for a moment anyway, we all paused to look up at the spectacular sky.

Until next time…

Total solar eclipse of 2024, shown in full totality with the moon passing in front of the sun by Carol Schiraldi.
Photo by Carol Schiraldi, copyright 2024, “Big Ball in the Sky,” total solar eclipse of 2024

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