Home » Education » Learning Activities for Kids » 2024 Solar Eclipse Totality

2024 Solar Eclipse Totality

Our experience of totality during the 2024 solar eclipse – how totality felt, and why this is an event worth traveling for!

solar eclipse in progress

Yesterday was my first time watching a total solar eclipse! I was in the country for the last one, but I didn’t travel to totality. A couple of my siblings did, and their experience convinced me to travel for this eclipse. I met up with my mom and all nine of my siblings (plus several spouses and children) to watch the 2024 eclipse. I’m so glad I did!

Where to Watch a Solar Eclipse

When viewing a solar eclipse you want a wide open sky and as few city lights as possible, just to make totality feel more complete.

It takes a while for the moon to completely obscure the sun, so you’ll also want to plan to entertain yourselves in between staring at the sun through protective glasses.

We brought food and set up a couple of hours early at a covered picnic table in a park with playgrounds and a small stream to entertain the kids. My brother-in-law picked the park and he couldn’t have chosen better. It wasn’t too crowded, the bathrooms were clean, and we even had shade to sit in!

What Surprised Me Most About Eclipse Totality

It’s really hard to describe eclipse totality, but I’ll try.

I loved being in a park with a bunch of other random humans who were interested in watching the moon block out the sun for a few minutes in the middle of a work day.

There was a man who had brought a giant (around 4 feet long and a foot or so wide) telescope. He very generously let anyone who wanted to watch the eclipse. It created a fantastic community spirit, and it made it possible for my sister and nephew to capture the detailed images I’ve shared in this post. The image below was taken by my 11-year-old nephew. I love the way you can see totality as well as a reflection of a tree and sky in the telescope lens.

Solar eclipse totality image taken through a telescope

What Does Totality Feel Like?

Temperatures drop and the light dims as the eclipse begins. I have prescription sunglasses since I wear glasses and have super light sensitive eyes. I kept double checking to make sure I didn’t have sunglasses on long after I had switched over to regular glasses, because for a while the world gets that sunglasses lens colored tint. You also get to see a 360 degree sunset!

Once it is dark, nocturnal animals start to come out. There weren’t many to notice in the park we were in this time round, but for the last eclipse my sibling say the cicadas sang their hearts out.

We drove to a spot that had around three minutes of totality, and those were probably the shortest three minutes of my life! It’s an awe inspiring event, and I was still processing it all when the sun reappeared.

The darkness mostly came on gradually, but after the eclipse it felt like it got light almost immediately. I’m guessing that has more to do with our eyes adjusting to bright lights more quickly than we adjust to darkness, but I’m not sure.

Fun Solar Eclipse Activities

We bought eclipse glasses, including a few 2x magnification ones that were definitely worth the extra dollars. We found it pretty easy to share 6 pairs of the 2x magnification lenses across the 30 of us who met up, because the eclipse mostly happens gradually and you don’t need them during totality.

My sister-in-law attached the eclipse glasses to paper plates with a pizza slice cutout that went over their noses to create a safer eclipse viewing experience for the younger kids.

Solar eclipse diamond ring photo taken with a cell phone

We used a pen to poke holes in a sheet of card stock to view the crescent sun shape on the ground, and the younger kids especially liked that. A colander works well for this, but we didn’t bring one with us. We did discover that if you crosshatch your fingers it creates lovely eclipse viewing holes in the shadow on the ground!

Crescent shadows from a solar eclipse

When Is the Next Total Solar Eclipse?

The next total solar eclipse visible in the US isn’t until August 22, 2044, and totality for that eclipse will only occur in North Dakota and Montana. There is a coast-to-coast path across the country for the August 12, 2045 total solar eclipse. Hopefully most of us reading this will still be around for that one!

Did you watch the 2024 total solar eclipse? If so, what did you think? Did you get to experience eclipse totality?

Share comments and feedback below, on my Facebook page, or by tagging me on InstagramSign up for my newsletter to receive book recommendations, crafts, activities, and parenting tips in your inbox every week.

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

4 thoughts on “2024 Solar Eclipse Totality”

  1. How cool that you were able to watch the eclipse and got lucky with the weather, plus made it into a nerdy family reunion :)

  2. That is an amazing shot your nephew got.

    It was cloudy on the day of the eclipse, so we were only able to see it in bits and pieces. It was totally dark for a bit, but wasn’t full dark like nighttime, which was odd to me. It was dark enough the streetlights came on.

    1. I’m sorry you had cloud cover! We definitely lucked out. I don’t feel like it got full nighttime dark for us either. I guess the sun rays still have an impact, even blocked by the moon like that. The street lights did come on, though.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top