How and When To Watch the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse in DFW

Posted by Rachel Blakemore, Social Media Specialist, on Mar 29, 2024

How and When To Watch the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse in DFW

Get ready, because a total solar eclipse is coming to North Texas on April 8, 2024!

Most of the DFW metroplex will experience the moon completely blocking the sun for a full 3-5 minutes (depending on your exact location). It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, as DFW won’t see another total eclipse until 2251.

When I was 19, I was lucky enough to take a graduation trip to Germany to visit family. My relatives kept going on and on about how excited they were that I would be there to watch a total eclipse with them. I had seen partial eclipses before—and frankly, I didn’t find them that impressive. It wasn’t until I sat there, watching the midday sun above me give way to a starry night sky, that I understood the impressiveness of the event. The image of the darkness above me with a simultaneously brightly lit horizon is something that I have never forgotten.

So I’m planning ahead to fully enjoy this one with my family and friends. Find some helpful tips on how to do that, below.


When and Where To Watch the Eclipse in DFW

Some cities in DFW will have a longer stint in viewing area for the total eclipse (called the “Path of Totality”) and some like Denton will only see a partial eclipse. You may want to consider traveling a few miles for the optimal spot; Plano, Irving, DeSoto, and Mesquite will all have 3-5 minutes of totality. In Plano, the eclipse begins at 12:23 PM and will last until 3:02 PM, with totality lasting from 1:40 to 1:44 PM.

Many schools and city recreation centers are holding watch parties for the big event. Plano has two designated viewing locations: Windhaven Meadows Park in West Plano, and Oak Point Park in East Plano. Find more info and maps here.

The City of Allen will host a viewing party on the steps of the new Terrell Recreation Center. Free eclipse glasses will be available to attendees. Get the details here.

Look here to see a map of the path of totality across Texas.  


How To (Safely) Watch the Eclipse

Okay, so once you have your location picked; it’s time to prepare. As tempted as you may be to sneak a peek at the sun with your naked eyes, don’t. Seriously. Don’t do it. The damage to your eyesight can be permanent. Luckily, there are specially made glasses that make it safe to view this rare phenomenon. When purchasing glasses, don’t get fooled by the flood of cheap but ineffective ones out there. Eclipse glasses have an ISO (a metric of sensitivity to light) of 12312-2, and real ones will be marked with that number (and often, a seal from NASA).

Note: the city of Plano will have free viewing glasses available at all five Plano library locations, while supplies last. Plano ISD will also provide viewing glasses to enrolled students, and schools will organize watching events during the day.

No glasses? You can still view the eclipse, just not directly. Use anything with a pin hole/small holes in it to help you see it indirectly. (I recommend a colander.) Just before the eclipse begins, stand holding your pinhole object with your back to the sun. The light shining through the object will display the shadow of the eclipse on the ground. You can watch the circular point of light change to the crescent sun and then disappear entirely on the ground in front of you, all without damaging your eyes!

Get the kids involved by making your own pinhole projector. It’s an easy and fun project that will get everyone hyped for the main event. 

If you plan to record video, take pictures, or use binoculars or a telescope, make sure to invest in solar lens filters to protect your equipment. You'll need one even if you are just using your cell phone.

 

What To Expect During the Eclipse

During the eclipse, the first thing you will notice is a change in your surroundings, so look around.

  • The light around you will take on an other-worldly tint. This will cause mundane objects to have more color saturation and appear strange. Shadows will be more stark, and you may even be able to see the detail of the hair on your arms in your own shadow.
  • In the minutes leading up to totality, the light will dim and shadows (like those through the leaves of a bush or tree) will become crescents.
  • You may feel the temperature drop.
  • If your pet is outside with you, you may see them react to the eclipse by becoming excitable before the eclipse, or becoming quiet or laying down during the change in light.
  • In the last minutes leading to totality, white surfaces (try spreading out a sheet) will show moving bands of shadow that cannot be photographed. You can watch for this by spreading a bedsheet on the ground.
  • Finally, the total eclipse will reveal “Baily’s Beads” which are shafts of light that poke through the craters of the moon. Then look for the Diamond Ring Effect of the solar corona peering out from behind the black moon.

 

Extra Family Activities

Before the eclipse, spend some time talking about it with your children. Read books to help kids understand the phenomenon. After the eclipse, consider having kids write down what they experienced with their various senses in a journal. They can include drawings or pictures and share their journal with others in the future.

Are you and your kids feeling “extra”? Try making eclipse art! Whether you are using your pinhole projector, a piece of paper with a pattern of holes punched into it, or a strainer, photographing the changing shapes that are projected onto a piece of white paper is an awesome way to memorialize the experience.  

Another cool way to make eclipse art: use Sunprint photosensitive paper with your pinhole viewer and see what kind of images appear! Put a hole in an aluminum can and place the paper inside. Tape several cans with varying size holes to a tree or outdoor pole, and let the paper capture different aspects of the eclipse. (You can use tape to cover the hole until you are ready to expose the paper.)

If this is your first total solar eclipse, I recommend staying in the moment and enjoying the experience. Nothing is quite like seeing it in person. Stay safe and have fun enjoying this surreal and awe-inspiring event with those around you!

 


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It's a once-in-a-lifetime event: the total solar eclipse is coming to DFW on April 8, 2024! Find out how and when to safely enjoy the solar eclipse with family and loved ones, here.