🌕You'll be dead by Austin's next total solar eclipse (in 2343)
Vivien Ngo & Lesley Huang / Hearst Newspapers
- 5 min read

🌕You'll be dead by Austin's next total solar eclipse (in 2343)

Plus, Austin Hail Day is coming...

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Introduction

☀️ How ya doin', Austin?

You know that big thing happening in the sky next month that already has Travis County declaring a local disaster? Let's talk about why it's such a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.

Plus, we've got a roundup on what happened in City Hall this week and a warning for next Monday.


Let’s talk about the sun and the moon and the dance they do

a graphic showing when different types of solar eclipses will occur in the U.S. Texas and Austin during the 21st century.
Vivien Ngo & Lesley Huang / Hearst Newspapers

On average, a total solar eclipse passes by a given point on Earth once every 375 years. The next one is this April 8, and we’ll all get front row seats to it. 

Despite that average, the last time a total solar eclipse passed over Austin was over 600 years ago in 1397.

What was happening in 1397? 

In Europe, the Hundred Years’ War was only a 60-year war. 

Around here, Austin didn’t exist yet. In fact, the first European wouldn’t come to the Texas area for another 122 years. But don’t think that means there weren’t people here to witness it. While much is unknown about the people living in Texas then, they’re believed to have been nomadic hunters and gatherers.

This will be the only time in the 21st century where a total solar eclipse can be seen inside Austin. I wonder how we’ll be remembered by those writing explainers like this one during the next total eclipse in 2343. Nothing like blocking out our life-giving sun to get us all contemplating our mortality. 

What’s the difference between a total and an annular eclipse? 

For both types of eclipse, the sun, moon and Earth all have to align. 

But during a total solar eclipse, the moon appears to cover the sun wholly. Although this is only visible to viewers inside the umbra — the darkest part in the center of the moon’s shadow. 

Anyone inside the lighter outer part of the shadow, or the penumbra, sees only a partial eclipse, where the moon covers only part of the sun. Anyone outside this shadow sees no eclipse at all.

Two graphics showing the difference between a total and annular solar eclipse.
Vivien Ngo & Lesley Huang / Hearst Newspapers

An annular eclipse occurs because the moon’s orbit around the Earth is elliptical. This means sometimes even if the moon is perfectly aligned between the sun and the Earth, it may be too far away to cover the sun’s light completely.

In this case, the Earth is in the path of the antumbra, a half-shadow that starts where the umbra ends. Inside the antumbra, the moon appears smaller than the sun.

Fun fact: The name “annular” comes from the Latin annulus, meaning “ring.” Because the moon isn’t close enough to cover the sun completely, it creates the annular eclipse’s distinctive “ring of fire.”

How many total solar eclipses will take place this century? 

While Austin won’t be privy to any more total solar eclipses during most of our lifetimes, there will be plenty elsewhere between now and 2123 — 68, to be exact. But you’ll definitely have to travel farther than our backyards to catch the next one.  

a map of the world showing the total solar eclipse paths of the next century.
Source: Five Millennium Canon of Solar Eclipses Database by Xavier M. Jubier

But all good things must end …

Did you know solar eclipses are becoming rarer?

The moon drifts away from Earth at a rate of 4 centimeters per year

And 600 million years from now, after we and whoever is writing about us in 2343 are long gone, the Earth will have its last total solar eclipse and this celestial dance will end.

Cat DeLaura, Reporter; Lesley Huang and Vivien Ngo, Contributing Reporters


Temperature: 75 degrees | Sun: Afternoon Appearance | What to Expect: Good Moods

After a stormy Thursday night, the leftover clouds will eventually give way to sunshine around lunch time. If you can play hooky, maybe take a few hours this afternoon for a nice hike in the nearest greenbelt. There may be some water flowing.

Mary’s Tip: Take your evening outside — it will be the perfect night for a rooftop Happy Hour at El Alma.


Four items City Council approved this week

We’re trying something new with our City Hall coverage. Thursday, we gave you a preview of some of the issues being considered by Austin City Council this week. Today, we follow up on them to let you know how the council voted. So let’s get into it. 

What passed? In short, everything we mentioned in yesterday’s send. Here's what that means: 

  • The city will work with Travis County and the Texas A&M Forest Service to develop a new Community Wildfire Protection Plan. In her comments after it passed, Council Member Alison Alter noted that the city has “accomplished most of the goals that were in (the 2014) plan, and we need to rethink regionally how we’re going to take the next steps to protect our community.”
  • The city will provide up to roughly $13 million to provide a variety of early childhood services.
  • Austin plans to borrow $193 million more from the State Infrastructure Bank to pay for cap and stitch projects as part of the I-35 reconstruction.

What else happened? 

We mentioned in Wednesday’s newsletter the council’s plans to purchase 107 acres that sit along the planned light rail line in south Austin. The city went ahead with that plan despite some residents' concerns over whether the planned development actually would result in affordable housing.


Beware of March 25 (AKA Monday)

This may just be a normal day to other Texans, but to Austinites, it’s significant, especially if storms are in the forecast. 

In the past 30 years, four major hailstorms have pummeled the city on this very day: in 1993, 2005, 2009 and 2021. Out of those four events, the first three were the costliest in the city’s history until its worst came along this past September. March 25 is notoriously known as “Austin Hail Day.”

It’s not just dumb luck: March is the beginning of severe weather season, which runs through May. 

“The jet stream is typically in a favorable position across the southern portion of the U.S. to bring frequent disturbances to our area which provide the necessary ingredients for severe thunderstorms to develop,” National Weather Service meteorologist Brandon Gale said.

If you haven’t Marie Kondo’d your garage yet this year, here are a few ways to protect your car from hail. 

  • Find a structure to park it under, even a canopy of trees will work.
  • Use thick moving blankets to wrap around your car and to cover your windows.
  • Flatten cardboard boxes and then place them on your windshield, under the wipers.

— Mary Wasson, Meteorologist


Were so glad you found us. Find our bios and contact info here, or reach out at hello@austindaily.com. Behind todays send: Katie Canales, Cat DeLaura and Mary Wasson.