A Visitor’s Guide to Austin’s Total Solar Eclipse

The exact start time and duration of totality for the Austin TX eclipse will vary depending on your specific location within the path of totality in Austin, Texas. However, here’s a general timeframe to keep in mind:

  • Eclipse Start Time: Expect the partial eclipse to begin sometime around 1:00 PM CDT (Central Daylight Time) on April 8th, 2024. This is when the moon first starts to noticeably block the sun. The total eclipse starts at 1:36PM partial begins at 12:17PM.
  • Totality Duration: The total eclipse, where the sun is completely blocked by the moon, is expected to last for approximately 1 minute and 40 seconds to 2 minutes in Austin.
  • Total Darkness: During this period of totality, the sky will darken dramatically, and stars may even become visible. It’s during this brief window that you’ll experience the awe-inspiring sight of the sun’s corona, its outer atmosphere.

Finding Specific Times for the Austin TX Eclipse:

For the most accurate information on the exact start time of totality and its duration for your specific viewing location in Austin, you can refer to these resources closer to the date:

These websites allow you to enter your specific coordinates and will provide a detailed breakdown of the eclipse timings, including the start and end times of both the partial and total eclipse phases.

If you have not yet made plans you are probably going to be extremely disappointed now. But if you still want to come to the Austin Areas.

A little basic education to get you started:

The area where a total eclipse can be seen is called the path of totality. During a solar eclipse, the moon’s shadow casts two regions on Earth:

  • Umbra: This is the darkest part of the shadow, where the moon completely blocks the sun’s light. The path of totality lies within the umbra.
  • Penumbra: This is the lighter outer region of the shadow, where the sun is only partially blocked. Observers in the penumbra will experience a partial solar eclipse.

Austin is in the path of Totality but right on the Eastern Edge. There are better choices for the Austin TX Eclipse… but Austin will work.

Calling all eclipse enthusiasts! Austin, Texas is in the prime viewing zone for the awe-inspiring total solar eclipse happening on April 8th, 2024. But before you pack your bags and head down, here’s what you need to know to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Safety First: Gazing at the Sun Safely

This might sound obvious, but looking directly at the sun during a solar eclipse, even for a second, can permanently damage your eyes. Here’s the golden rule: never look at the sun without proper filters. Invest in specially certified eclipse glasses that meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. These will be readily available for purchase closer to the event date.

Here are some options for acquiring eclipse glasses to safely view the April 8th, 2024 total solar eclipse in Austin, Texas:

Physical Locations:

  • Austin Visitor Center: These glasses are expected to be available for purchase starting around March or April 2024. They are reported to be $1.99 each or buy six get one free.
  • City of Austin Facilities: Starting March 11th, 2024, Austin Parks and Recreation Department will distribute 10,000 free eclipse glasses at locations around the city, including:
    • All 20 community recreation centers
    • Four senior centers
    • Three cultural centers
    • Austin Nature and Science Center
  • Retailers: Closer to the eclipse date, eclipse glasses are likely to be sold at various retailers around Austin, including: *的眼镜店 (Yǎnjìng diàn) – Chinese for “Eyewear stores” – Many eyewear stores might sell eclipse glasses
    • Department stores like Target or Walmart
    • Sporting goods stores like Academy Sports + Outdoors or Dick’s Sporting Goods

Online Retailers:

  • Several online retailers sell eclipse glasses, but be sure to order well in advance to ensure they arrive before the eclipse. Look for eclipse glasses that are certified to meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. Here are a few online retailers to get you started (be aware that these are just a few examples and not an exhaustive list):

Important Note:

Never look directly at the sun without proper filters, even for a brief moment. Eclipse glasses with the ISO 12312-2 certification are your safest option for viewing the eclipse.

Camping and Lodging Options for The Austin TX Eclipse:

NOTE: As of this writing March 14, 2024 your chances of getting a Public Camping spot are ZERO. Campgrounds have been booked out for more than a month. If the campground is in the path of totality it’s booked. Hotels have a very limited number of rooms left but you can expect to pay 2-4x the normal rates.

You might want to check Craiglist or call friends if you have them and see if you can park on their property. Sleeping in your car is actually not a good idea as there are overnight parking restrictions in all of Austin and even in the smaller communities. Will there be enough of a Police Presense to harrass those who choose to overnight in their cars? Probably not, But you may encounter some less than friendly private property owners if you try.

Private Camping and Lodging Options:

Since public campgrounds are booked solid, consider these alternatives:

  • Private Campgrounds: Several private campgrounds around Austin offer eclipse viewing packages. Research and book early, as these will fill up fast too. Here are a few to get you started:
    • Shady Lane RV Park (Dripping Springs)
    • Hill Country Camping (Bee Cave)
    • Barton Creek Greenbelt (Austin) – This location offers primitive camping with limited amenities.
  • Alternative Lodging: Explore options like AirBnB or look for hotels outside the city center. Consider towns like Dripping Springs, Wimberley, or San Marcos for a slightly quieter experience with potentially better hotel availability.

Personal Safety Tips:

With a large influx of visitors, staying safe is paramount. Here are some additional personal safety tips:

  • Be aware of your surroundings: Especially in crowded areas, keep an eye on your belongings and avoid walking alone at night.
  • Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen: April in Texas can be hot! Pack plenty of water and wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, even during the eclipse itself.
  • Have a plan for traffic: Expect heavy congestion before, during, and after the eclipse. Download a traffic navigation app and be patient.
  • Bring cash: With potential for increased credit card transactions or internet outages, having some cash on hand is a good idea.

Prime Viewing Locations:

Austin itself will experience a total eclipse, but for the best view, head north or west of the city. Luckily, there are plenty of public viewing options:

  • Check out parks like Zilker Metropolitan Park or McKinney Falls State Park for open spaces with a clear view of the sky.
  • Many schools and universities will likely host viewing events, so keep an eye out for announcements.

Police and Emergency Services:

Expect a larger police presence during the eclipse. This is to ensure everyone’s safety and manage traffic flow. Emergency services will also be on high alert during the Austin TX Ecliipse. Expect no help if you actually do have a problem. This is how things work. Remember Murphy’s Law is even more prevalent during large events: “If something can go wrong it will”. You can not be too prepared. I mentioned this above but it’s worth mentioning again…people will spend the night in their cars – it’s just going to happen.

But it’s still not a good idea and I can not recommend a safe place to overnight in your vehicle. If you are going to stay in your car it could be a very uncomfortable experience if the weather is warm. Be sure to get some kind of window reflector and privacy curtains. (Here is a simple tip I have used in the past when overnighting in a car – Bring Paper Clips). You can bend a paper clip to make a temporary hook between the roof liner and the side panels in almost every car without causing damage. Then you can hang some kind of temporary curtain.

You may want to hit a convenience store or grocery store and buy a big back of ice and get. yourself a small quiet battery operated fan. You know the drill. Be prepared.

Fun After the Eclipse:

Seems foolish to come to come to Austin to watch it get dark for 2 minutes… but there is plenty to do afterwards (Assuming you can get through the traffic to find your way to the fun). You can also expect parking everywhere to be a real problem. Such negativity I know. The eclipse might be the main event, but Austin has tons to offer after the darkness fades. Explore the vibrant Sixth Street entertainment district, indulge in some delicious Texas BBQ, or catch a live music show at one of the many iconic venues.

Make it a Memorable Experience:

If you are seriously planning to attend the Austin TX Eclipse following these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to experiencing the magic of the total solar eclipse in Austin. Remember, certified eclipse glasses, a safe viewing location, and a plan for post-eclipse fun are all essential for making this a trip you’ll never forget!

Areas to Avoid:

While most of Austin will be buzzing with eclipse excitement, some areas might be particularly crowded:

  • Sixth Street: This popular entertainment district will likely be packed before and after the eclipse. If you’re not a fan of large crowds, consider exploring other areas. This really is not the trip you want to be visiting Sixth Street – plus it’s a Monday Night.
  • Popular Viewing Locations: Places like Zilker Metropolitan Park and McKinney Falls State Park will likely be at capacity during the eclipse. Have a backup plan in mind in case these areas are full.

Prime Viewing Locations with a Backup Plan:

Austin itself will experience a total eclipse, but for the best view of the Austin TX Eclipse, head north or west of the city. Here are some public viewing options with a backup plan in mind:

  • Primary Options:
    • Zilker Metropolitan Park: This large park offers plenty of open space and a great view of the sky. However, expect large crowds. It is an option but it is going to be slammed which is why I recommend avoiding it if you can.
    • McKinney Falls State Park: This scenic state park offers a beautiful natural setting for eclipse viewing. Be aware that parking fills up quickly.
  • Backup Options:
    • Consider smaller parks within the city limits, like Pease Park or Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park.
    • Many schools and universities might host viewing events. Check their websites or social media pages closer to the date.