TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Travis County officials are gearing up for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in 2024, as a total solar eclipse is expected to pass over the Central Texas region.
A total solar eclipse will pass over the Hill Country region on April 8, 2024, from 1:32-1:41 p.m. The astronomical phenomenon happens when the sun, moon and Earth are directly aligned, resulting in a shadow from the moon darkening the sky during the day.
Total solar eclipses happen approximately every 18 months around the world, with the last one witnessed in the continental U.S. on Aug. 21, 2017. Approximately 20 million Americans saw the 2017 eclipse.
In 2024, Texas will be the first state the eclipse hits before heading to the northeast, said Dawn Davies, night sky program manager with the Hill Country Alliance. She said upwards of tens to hundreds of thousands of visitors could travel to Central Texas to witness the event, which will happen in tandem with the region’s already popular wildflower, bluebonnet and migratory bird seasons.
“It’s somewhat of the perfect storm,” she said.
Currently, Davies is working to coordinate with other Central Texas counties on their eclipse plans to help ensure they can handle the influx of traffic and visitors expected to come.
Astronomer Michael Brewster told Travis County commissioners Tuesday he has spoken with many people who plan to visit Austin during the eclipse, adding this will be a tremendous tourism opportunity for the region. He flagged Burnet and Fredericksburg as two Central Texas areas that can expect spectacular views.
In our neck of the woods, the northwestern portion of Travis County will be in the path of totality — or will be able to see the total path of the eclipse — while the southeastern portion will not. As a result, he said the county should expect to see a surge of traffic during the eclipse.
On Tuesday, commissioners approved a resolution which will include participating in the Hill Country Alliance’s roundtable to learn more about preparations for the total eclipse. The county will also work in tandem with its parks, emergency services, sheriff’s office and communications departments on how to best plan for the phenomenon.
Travis County will also work in coordination with Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Austin Visitors Bureau, local city and county governments, colleges, hospitals, universities and school districts to enhance local and regional eclipse experiences.
“This is kind of like hosting the Olympics of astronomy,” Brewster said. “There’s going to be people coming from all over the world, and we can expect a very major event.”