Scientists envision Highland Lakes as possible live broadcast site for the 2024 eclipse
The best place on earth to observe a solar eclipse scheduled to occur on April 8, 2024 is central Texas. An expert on the phenomenon traveled to the Highland Lakes at the end of June this year to research an optimal location to broadcast the event live to the rest of the world, including a stop at Canyon of the Eagles at Burnet.
“The last eclipse was watched by 60 million people,” said Robyn Higdon, who has been tracking solar eclipses around the world since 1999 as part of the Exploratory and live production of the NASA total solar eclipse.
The Exploratorium, a science museum in San Francisco, is teaming up with NASA to live stream solar eclipses. Higdon, the executive producer of the project, will bring a team of 40 people, around 2 tonnes of equipment and satellite / production trucks to film the four-minute eclipse.
The team will conduct live broadcasts in English and Spanish as well as telescope views, accessible to media, museums, educational institutions, schools and almost anyone.
Not everyone outside the region will want to watch it online. Higdon warned the Highland lakes must be prepared for an onslaught of visitors. More than 100,000 people converged on Madras, Oregon, where Higdon and his team settled for the August 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. Madras is a city of about 7,000 people.
Due to the path of the eclipse, the duration of the totality (blackout time), and the more pleasant spring weather in this area, the Texas Hill Country is a great place to see the event. Llano, Burnet and Marble Falls are on the way to this next eclipse, which will begin around 1:34 p.m. on Monday, 2024.
“Since this one happens in the middle of the day, it’s even more incredible because everything is going to get dark,” Higdon said. “You will be able to see stars. It’s incredible, very moving.
Watching a total eclipse is an item on a lot of people’s to-do list, Higdon said.
“This is one of the most beautiful events you will ever see,” she continued. “The great thing here in Hill Country is that all people have to do is walk in their backyard to see the eclipse.”
Higdon experienced her first total solar eclipse early one morning in 1998. An Exploratorium employee, she arrived to watch a live broadcast as she passed through Aruba.
“The (stream) was at 4 am (in San Francisco), and we had 2,000 people in the museum to watch it,” she said.
The following year, she joined the production team, traveling to Zambia, Turkey, Chile, the Gobi Desert in western China and Mexico. The next stop will be central Texas and possibly the Highland Lakes. She is looking for a location that can handle crew, equipment, and space requirements.
Along with his stop at Canyon of the Eagles, Higdon visited Fredericksburg and Kerrville as possible live streaming sites. No decision will be taken until several trips to the region, she said. The June trip was his first.
The Hill Country receives a double dose of solar events in six months. On October 14, 2023, an annular eclipse will cross Texas from the northwest, cross Hill Country, and exit through Coastal Bend.
Higdon said the annular eclipse is often referred to as the “ring of fire” because the moon – due to a small variation in its distance from Earth – does not completely shade the sun. The event will be visible from 10:20 a.m. to 1:31 p.m. that day with maximum effect just before noon. While an annular eclipse is striking, she said, it is not as impressive as the total eclipse coming six months later in April 2024.
“I’m so scared that people will see the annular eclipse and think it’s not that impressive,” she said. “The annular eclipse has nothing to do with the total eclipse. You will remember the Total Eclipse for the rest of your life, which is why, if you have children or grandchildren, be sure to take them to see.