Experience the Historic Total Solar Eclipse
On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will trace a narrow path across the United States, and Commerce, Texas, is in the path of totality! For approximately four minutes, Commerce will experience a 360-degree sunset dark enough to see planets, bright stars and the Sun's corona!
This is your chance to experience history! The last total solar eclipse visible from Commerce happened on April 28, 1557, and won't be visible again in our area until July 9, 2317!
Check here for upcoming details, eclipse information, resources and viewing opportunities!
What is an Eclipse?
Eclipse is the term astronomers use to describe when the light from one heavenly body is blocked by another object. There are different types of eclipses, but most people will only ever see a lunar eclipse or a solar eclipse.
A lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes through Earth's shadow. Earth blocks most sunlight from reaching the Moon, and from Earth, we see part or all of the Moon darken for the few hours it takes the Moon to pass through Earth's shadow. Lunar eclipses are visible to all people on the night side of Earth, making lunar eclipses the most common eclipse you can see.
A solar eclipse happens when the Moon comes between the Sun and Earth. From Earth, we can see part or all of the Sun seemingly disappear in midday! Unlike a lunar eclipse, solar eclipses are only visible from a small part of Earth because the Moon's shadow is quite small.
The Moon is about 400 times smaller than the Sun, but the Sun is 400 times further away. Therefore, the Moon and Sun appear almost exactly the same size in our sky! The distance from Earth to the Moon changes slightly as the Moon orbits Earth. When the Moon is slightly closer to Earth than usual, it appears slightly larger than the Sun. When it is slightly further away from Earth, the Moon appears slightly smaller than the Sun. These differences aren't obvious to us, but it can greatly change the type of eclipse that we see!
Types of Solar Eclipses
Partial Solar Eclipse
A partial solar eclipse happens when the Moon only covers part of the Sun; this is the most common type of solar eclipse. Because it is harmful to look directly at even the tiniest sliver of the Sun without special protective eclipse glasses, and because the Sun is so bright, most people would not notice a partial solar eclipse unless they are told about it in advance.
Annular Solar Eclipse
An annular solar eclipse is the second type of solar eclipse. An annular eclipse happens when the Moon is near its furthest point from Earth. The Moon will line up exactly with the Sun, but because the Moon appears smaller than the Sun at this distance, we will see a ring of sunlight around the black shadow of the Moon!
Total Solar Eclipse
A total solar eclipse is far and away the most amazing kind of eclipse. During a total solar eclipse, the entire bright part of the Sun is hidden by the Moon. For observers on Earth, the sky gets dark and the stars appear. We also get a very rare treat; during totality we can see the Sun's faint, ghostly outer atmosphere called the corona; a wispy crown surrounding the black shadow of the Moon. For the few minutes that the Sun is completely covered by the Moon, it is safe to look at the Sun without protective glasses.
Most people never see an annular eclipse or a total solar eclipse because the Moon is relatively small and its shadow on Earth is only about 150 miles across. Only the people in that narrow stripe get to see the Moon and Sun exactly aligned, while other places on Earth will only see a partial solar eclipse, or perhaps no eclipse at all!
An annular eclipse or a total solar eclipse will happen somewhere on Earth about once every year, but because the eclipse path is so narrow, any given spot on Earth only gets to see an eclipse every 400 years or so on average.
- P.O. Box 3011
- Commerce, TX 75429-3011
For a recorded message providing show information and times, call 903.468.8652.