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  • Cecilia Clark

Astronomical and Atmospheric Phenomena in April and May 2024

Updated: May 28

Total Eclipse, Plano, TX: April 8, 2024

We stopped in Dallas for a few days on our way home from Sri Lanka. The stop allowed us to get over some jet lag from the long flight back to the US, visit family, and get a glimpse of the total eclipse.

We spent the pre-eclipse days with Christine and Bill (my niece and her husband) who live in Plano, TX. They took us to a small, charming nearby town for sightseeing, lunch, and wine tasting. We had a wonderful smoked brisket dinner cooked by their good friends and great food and company all three days.

The plan was to watch the eclipse from Christine and Bill's backyard. On eclipse day, we watched eclipse weather reports that calculated the chance of actually seeing the eclipse because the sky was quickly filling with clouds. When the eclipse began, the sky was blue and mostly cloud free. As the eclipse progressed so did the cloud cover, but we saw it all. Totality was almost 4 minutes long. It was fun watching Bill and Christine enjoy the eclipse. Their dog Lindy took it all in stride.

I didn't have a tripod or a long lens with me because I really didn't need them in Sri Lanka and it is a hassle to pack them just for one day. I saw and photographed the August 2017 eclipse in Oregon, and I thought I would just watch this one and enjoy the changes in air temperature and light levels. Ultimately I couldn't resist. I handheld my camera and used an 24-120 lens on a cropped sensor camera. Despite having to crop significantly, the photos are decently sharp.

The Aurora Borealis in El Dorado County, California: May 11, 2024

I missed the best day, May 10, for seeing the Aurora Borealis because I didn't realize that we wouldn't be able to see any color with our eyes. A long exposure on a camera was the only way we were going to see it. The next evening, May 11, we went to the local community observatory and with about 2,000 other people, we waited for darkness. Fortunately, the observatory volunteers were able to pinpoint exactly where in the sky the aurora was showing up and I got a photo. Just the barest amount of magenta was visible to my eye. The first photo at 9:37 pm had the best color and the subsequent photos of the Aurora showed how quickly the color faded to nothing. We tried again on May 12, but saw nothing and nothing appeared in my photos.

Both were super interesting experiences.


James Gray
James Gray

Very beautiful pictures. Great to meet you two. Glad you had a good time.

Cecilia Clark

Thank you. It was a pleasure to meet you and Beverly. The meal you two put together was wonderful.

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