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The foiled journey to the dark side of the Moon

My personal countdown for next eclipse in 2044 already started


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BOERNE, Texas – Overcast skies stood between the total solar eclipse spectacle and millions of disappointed eclipse-chasers nationwide last Monday.

You can count me in that statistic. No matter how much I had hoped, the blanket of gray clouds never lifted.

Ever since I looked up at my first total solar eclipse in 2017, I have been looking forward to the next one. It was a life-changing moment I would never forget, such as when the sky had reddened and darkened, almost like a dark room for film. When the moon finally rolled into place, I took off my eclipse glasses. The platinum ring of the corona could be seen safely with the naked eye, and so too was a sky glittering with stars. 

It was a spectacular slice of nightfall in the middle of the day. 

Unfortunately, this was not the case during my most recent trip. Driving west on Interstate 10, I was well aware of the forecast. The odds were stacked against me, but I held out for the slim chance of an opening. I picked up my brother in Pensacola, and we continued until we reached San Antonio, where my family was already waiting for us. As I continued west, I noticed more than a few Florida license plate tags. 

Why bother traveling halfway across the county just for the slim chance of seeing a total eclipse? Florida was able to see a partial one, isn't that enough?

The difference between a total and partial solar eclipse is night and day. Compared to a total, a partial solar eclipse pales in comparison. A partial eclipse is still cool (I enjoyed the one we had in 2023), but even a 99% eclipse does not compare to a 100% total, complete thing.  

Where we were in San Antonio was just barely outside the zone of totality, so we traveled northwest to a nearby small town, Boerne, which is nestled in what is referred to as "Hill Country."

Specifically, we were along a highland ridge called the Balcones Escarpment, colloquially known as the corridor into the West. The craggy limestone hills separate Texan farmers on the east from Texan ranchers and cowboys to the west. 

Unrelated, I saw a Texan on social media say that anyone wearing a cowboy hat to the east of I-35 (which travels tangentially to the Balcones Escarpment) is only cosplaying. 

The eclipse was scheduled for 1:32 p.m. central time, and darkness touched down immediately after. Tragically, the corona could not be viewed because of cloud coverage, which was a huge bummer. While we couldn't see the eclipse, we could see it in action. 

It was pitch black from 1:32 p.m. to 1:36 p.m. Our vantage point overlooked San Antonio. While we couldn't see any stars, we saw the city's lights flicker in a dazzling display. It was like a glowing amalgam of gold miles down the mountainside. And then, when the moon rolled away, daylight filled the air once more, and the streetlights from downtown flickered off. 

The next eclipse in the continental U.S. will be August 23, 2044, which also happens to be my 44th birthday. The path of totality will pass through Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. I'll be having my birthday party in Great Falls, Montana, wearing my eclipse glasses and counting down to when I can finally take them off again.