Out to Space

A freak who enjoys discovering and sharing a simple beauty of life even in a strange place

Total Solar Eclipse in Texas: Celestial Tango in Veil

In 2024, one of the biggest events in North America was the total solar eclipse. While I was in the States, why not have a bucket list checked? So, I flew to Dallas, Texas, one of the cities underneath the ecliptic path. However, the peak of the celestial dance between the Moon and the Sun was like tango in a veil. As much as you could do, the sky might still play tricks on you.

Destined for the Show

While I was brewing the idea of returning to the office, this astronomic event put some weight on me to do so. This eclipse season became the kickoff of the new cycle of my spring travel. In synchronicity, I arrived in DC the night before the lunar eclipse and watched it with Australian wine. It was penumbral and not as dramatic as the following total solar eclipse. Nonetheless, consider it was a dress rehearsal. I felt destined for these shows. 

Lunar eclipse, 25 Mar 2024
Lunar eclipse, 25 Mar 2024

Unfortunately, you could see 90% of the covering in DC. There wasn’t a real plan to be under the Moon’s shadow. Still, I browsed some prospects. There were many choices: Cleveland (my first pick), Buffalo (with Niagara Falls, nah!), Toronto (been there), and Montreal (the higher latitude, the less time of totality). Until a good hotel deal in Dallas popped up, I seized it. Besides, I haven’t been to the South and would get to catch up with a friend from the Uni who has lived there for 20 years. 

The hotel is in Addison, a suburb just north of downtown Dallas. My friend recommended Addison Circle Park for the events on the day. A collective experience couldn’t go wrong. Everything was set. But days before the eclipse, the weather forecast wasn’t so clear. It varied from thunderstorm to partly cloudy. There was nothing I could do at that point.

The Curtain and the Veil

On the day, the forecast was partly cloudy throughout the afternoon but the morning looked grimmer than that. I walked to the park in the clouds with some hope but prepared for the disappointment. The sky was overcast when I got there. The sky might not raise the curtain for this once-in-the-lifetime exposition at all.

But like a miracle, the curtain was lifted. The cloud gradually disappeared. The sky became bright and clear. The Texan high noon was so strong that my skin peeled from sunburnt days after. Through eclipse glasses, we witnessed the Moon slowly aligned with the Sun. It cast pinhole shadows in crescent shapes. (The shots with orange tint were taken through eclipse glasses).

Then a twist. Just minutes before the totality, patches of clouds emerged like a veil obscuring the beauty of the dancers. The crowds booed at the clouds. Some laughed at the irony. On the big plus side, the veil diffused the sunlight so that the crescent shape shone through it visibly with the naked eye. So, I got extra seconds to take the glasses off before the totality.

On the ground, the light turned yellowish like twilight. But it was strange because the light source wasn’t at the horizon as we normally perceived. The temperature noticeably dropped. People held on to their devices to preserve the moment. Animals’ reactions weren’t so obvious. Too many human, I argued.

Of course, once the totality started, the thick part of the clouds eclipsed the eclipse. Baily’s beads were behind the veil. The clouds blew constantly. At least, we got to see some flickering red corona. That was the most elevating vision for me. My phone was no match to capture it. Earth under the Moon’s shadow was dark (still heavily lit by modern lights) but the sky was still illuminated—another light disorientation. Interestingly, the crowds got quieter in awe at the atmosphere.

Three minutes later, the show was over. While the dance was in reverse, people paid less attention to it and moved on, me too. On the way back to the hotel, I was deciphering these celestial performances.

Ultimately, I was grateful for the small window of opportunity for the display. Time and place were aligned. The curtain was opened with the condition of the veil. I stayed for one more day. Since that evening, thunderstorms roared that night and the weather stayed shitty at my departure, causing delayed flight. 

So poetic.

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