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The 2023 Annular Solar Eclipse in South Texas: Community Engagement and Personal Insights

I share my story of experiencing the 2023 annular solar eclipse.

Published onMar 01, 2024
The 2023 Annular Solar Eclipse in South Texas: Community Engagement and Personal Insights
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Abstract

In October 2023, I presented a public talk at the McAllen Public Library in McAllen, Texas, discussing the upcoming 2023 and 2024 solar eclipses. About 50 attendees participated in discussions on eclipse viewing safety. I also completed an interview with KRGV CHANNEL 5 NEWS to share insights on the 2023 Annular Eclipse. On the day of the 2023 Annular Eclipse, my wife and I drove to Corpus Christi, Texas, witnessing the event's remarkable ring of fire moment. This marked my inaugural experience of such an event, sparking my excitement and anticipation for the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.

1. My 2023 Annular Eclipse Experience  

In April 2023, the McAllen Public Library in McAllen, Texas asked me to give a public talk on the upcoming 2023 Annular Eclipse and 2024 Total Solar Eclipse. I gladly accepted their request, and six months later, gave a public talk in the Library’s Main Auditorium. About 50 community members attended, engaging in thoughtful discussions about solar eclipses and how to safely view them. Later that week, only a few days before the eclipse, KRGV CHANNEL 5 NEWS, the local TV station for the Rio Grande Valley, contacted my department. They asked if someone would be willing to give an interview on the upcoming 2023 Annular Solar Eclipse, and I gladly volunteered to do so the morning of the eclipse (https://www.krgv.com/news/utrgv-astronomy-professor-discusses-annular-solar-eclipse).

Flyer for event
Figure 1

An advertisement of the public lecture given by Dr. Lee (highlighted) on the upcoming 2023 and 2024 solar eclipses at the McAllen Public Library in McAllen, Texas.

 

On the day of the eclipse, following my TV interview, my wife and I drove for two hours to nearby Corpus Christi, Texas, as it was located along the eclipse's path of totality.  It was cloudy for most of the drive, but thankfully the skies cleared up as we arrived in Corpus Christi.  We were very lucky and happy, and even successfully captured the ring of fire moment with my cellphone camera and eclipse glasses at 11:57 a.m. Despite my scientific knowledge of eclipses, I learned a couple things from experiencing one in real life. First, I discovered that the sky remained blue during the annular eclipse, and second, eclipse glasses were essential, even during the totality phase.    

two people looking up with eclipse glasses on
Figure 2

My wife and I viewing the 2023 Annular Solar Eclipse in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Picture of Sun during annularity
Figure 3

I captured the 2023 Annular Eclipse’s glowing “ring of fire” using my cellphone camera and a pair of eclipse glasses.

2. Reflecting on the 2023 Annular Eclipse

The 2023 Annular Eclipse marked my first time witnessing such an event in my 55 years of life.  I was overjoyed and filled with excitement about both the annular eclipse and the opportunity to share my enthusiasm with my community. Looking ahead, I eagerly anticipate another remarkable first experience on April 8 when I watch the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse (the path of totality is just a few hours' drive away). I sincerely hope for clear skies on that day, too.

TV Interview:

To learn more about the 2023 and 2024 solar eclipses, you can watch my KRGV interview at

https://www.krgv.com/news/utrgv-astronomy-professor-discusses-annular-solar-eclipse

 

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