A road trip to Texas, May 2022
In May, I made a solo road trip to Texas in order to do “reconnaissance” and to plan for the upcoming total eclipse of the sun on April 8, 2024. I had made similar explorations of the western states prior to the 2017 Great American Eclipse which turned out to be very helpful in preparing for it.
You may ask “why Texas?” It is not my usual road trip destination, but celestial mechanics is oblivious to human-drawn political maps. It is also oblivious to weather, so to optimize the likelihood of clear skies on eclipse day, we need to be as far south and west along the eclipse path as possible. Here is a chart of the cloud cover for the time in April along the eclipse path.
I’m not sure if this chart represents how much of the sky is covered, or how often the sky is covered, but it is apparent that Mexico is the best place to observe the eclipse. Not eager to drive through Mexico, I am limiting the search to the US, which takes us to… Texas.
It turns out that the eclipse path runs through a pleasant part of south central Texas known as “Hill Country,” that contrasts with its flatter or harsher or more urban or more desolate areas. For Texans, it is the equivalent of what Minnesotans call “Up North”, a place to escape the city, or to relax on vacation. To me, it is not quite as nice as the North Woods, but I may be biased.
As I said, Texas is not my usual road trip destination. I have not been to the state for decades, and, having observed Texas politics from afar, I am a bit intimidated. But eclipse-viewing is something that can be enjoyed regardless of political view, so I packed up some observing gear and headed south.
In the next series of blog posts, I’ll describe what I encountered along the way. If you enjoy my travelogues, or if you just want to glean information that might be relevant to your 2024 eclipse plans, I invite you to subscribe (meaning that you will get an email notification when I publish a blog entry). Don’t worry, I’m not prolific at this, and you can unsubscribe at will.