APRIL 7, 2023 — One year from Saturday, April 8, the moon will position itself between Earth and the Sun, creating an astronomical spectacle that Angela Speck says everyone must witness at least once in their lifetimes.
A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow on the planet. The occurrence can only be seen from a small portion of the Earth’s surface. During a total solar eclipse, the sky darkens and the temperature drops, creating an unforgettable experience.
“Most people don’t get to witness a total solar eclipse in their lifetime,” said Speck, professor and chair in the UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy. “You have a year to plan where you’re going to be and it’s totally worth it getting into the path so you can witness this amazing spectacle.”
Eclipses provide scientists with a unique opportunity to study the sun's corona—the outermost layer of the sun's atmosphere—and learn more about how it interacts with the solar wind that affects Earth.
Even for those not involved in scientific research, witnessing a total solar eclipse can be a life-changing experience. It reminds us of the vastness and beauty of the universe we live in and helps us to put our own lives into perspective. It also provides a sense of connection to the natural world, something that can be easy to forget in our increasingly technology-driven lives.
This NASA map shows the paths of the upcoming annular solar eclipse on October 14, 2023 (in yellow), and the far more rare total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024 (in purple). Using observations from different NASA missions, this map shows where the Moon’s shadow will cross the U.S. during each eclipse. Photo courtesy of NASA/Scientific Visualization Studio/Michala Garrison; eclipse calculations by Ernie Wright and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
“It’s the full-on experience of what you see, feel, hear, etc. It’s not like any other experience,” Speck said.
The path of totality—the narrow strip of land where the eclipse can be seen in its entirety—will pass through several major cities including San Antonio and Boerne, Texas. A partial eclipse will still be visible across much of North America for those not in the path of totality.
“The north and west parts of San Antonio will be in the path of totality. To watch a solar eclipse safely you need to either have special viewing equipment to protect your eyes or you use an indirect viewing technique like a pinhole camera. But once the moon completely blocks out the sun, you don’t need anything. It’s safe to look at,” Speck said.
The last total solar eclipse to grace the United States was on August 21, 2017. Next year’s eclipse is the last chance to catch a total solar eclipse stateside until 2044.
Come celebrate the doctoral students graduating this commencement season.H-E-B Student Union Ballrooms, UTSA Main Campus
Celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates of the College for Health, Community and Policy, College of Liberal and Fine Arts and College of Sciences.Alamodome, 100 Montana St, San Antonio, TX 78203
Celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates of the Carlos Alvarez College of Business, College of Education and Human Development, Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design and University College.Alamodome, 100 Montana St, San Antonio, TX 78203
First Friday Stargazing gives anyone free access to the night sky using university telescopes and teaching equipment. Weather permitting, experienced astronomers will provide a handful of telescopes of varying designs, give training on how each operates, and point to various astronomical objects that may appear in the sky for that given time of the year. If you have a telescope and do not know how to operate it, feel free to bring it and get instructions on its use.4th Floor of Flawn Science Building, Main Campus
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