Getting Ready for the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

The 2017 total solar eclipse, as seen from Clarksville Tennessee, was captured with my telescope and camera.

In only a few months, on April 8, 2024, an awe-inspiring total solar eclipse will be visible from an area that spans from Mexico to Canada’s east coast. To make the most of this incredible experience, it is important to plan ahead.

When the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun, a total solar eclipse occurs. People who come to the “path of totality” will see the sun gradually covered by the moon, shrinking it to a sliver and then completely hiding it for a few short, yet remarkable minutes. During this time, the sun’s outer atmosphere, called the corona, can be observed, and the land below will be dimmed to levels close to nighttime.

I have had the fortune to observe several eclipses, both solar and lunar, over the years but nothing really prepares you for a total solar eclipse, even if you have seen them before.

In 2017, the “Great American Eclipse” provided millions of Americans with their first opportunity to witness a solar eclipse, and its impressive display of nature left many with a newfound fascination for the celestial phenomenon. This eclipse also prompted those who were unable to observe it to make sure they don’t miss the next one in 2024.

In 2017, an eclipse crossed the United States, providing up to two and a half minutes of totality along its path. For the 2024 eclipse, viewers will be treated to a longer period of totality, up to four minutes, and more people will have the opportunity to view it. Over 12 million lived within the 2017 eclipse path, while a projected 32 million will live within the 2024 path. This path will span from the west to east coasts, including cities such as Dallas, Little Rock, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo, San Antonio, Austin, Cincinnati, and Montreal. Due to the millions within a few hours drive, the 2024 event could be one of the most observed celestial events ever.

In order to make the most of the eclipse experience, I have gathered the following four steps from my own experience and from consulting with professionals.

Do you know of any good places to observe a solar eclipse?

The 2024 total solar eclipse will be visible across Mexico, the United States, and eastern Canada, as illustrated in this map showing the moon’s shadow path: Total Solar Eclipse MapThis eclipse can be seen in the areas shown on

At the time of an eclipse, the Earth and moon are both in motion, causing the moon’s shadow to move across the globe in a long, slim path of totality. Those residing outside of this path will witness a partial eclipse instead of a total eclipse, and the difference between the two can be likened to night and day. To ensure optimal viewing of the eclipse, one should try to get inside of the path of totality. Many resources are available to help with this, such as the Great American Eclipse website which offers exact start and end times for the eclipse for cities along the path. Additionally, state-by-state maps can be found at the National Eclipse site, and provides an interactive map of the entire eclipse path.

Don’t delay in making your accommodation reservations; many lodgings along the eclipse path are quickly filling up, and it appears there is already price gouging occurring–like it did in 2017. If you’re in a bind, you can rent a room outside of the path and drive in for the eclipse, though it is advised to arrive the day before. According to Gary Seronik, a consulting editor with Sky & Telescope magazine, “You don’t want to be that guy in the station wagon, with the kids in the back, stuck in traffic while the eclipse is happening.” Staying overnight after the eclipse has ended is also recommended, as the worst traffic is always after totality. The eclipse will occur on a Monday, so consider taking a long weekend. Michael Zeiler, co-developer of the Great American Eclipse website, suggests that people should be “reasonably self-sufficient. Bring your own food, bring your own water and keep the gas tank filled up. Maybe take a sleeping bag just in case.”

You don’t have to be at a big public event to enjoy the eclipse. I had a wonderful time in 2017 at the Old Glory Distillery who was having a private event. You can read about it here. I saw something about it online and called ahead to reserve a spot.

I also had a lot of fun at a rest area on the side of a highway while viewing the transit of Venus in 2012 which you can read about in my article on it. It was not crowded and there were only a few of us there.

What types of atmospheric conditions should one avoid during the solar eclipse?

The 2017 eclipse occurred in the late summer, while the 2024 eclipse is in springtime and may be clouded over. The best chances of clear skies are in Mexico, with Texas having the next best chances – approximately a 50-50 chance. Then, prospects become worse the farther northeast you go. According to Seronik, the best option in the US is to be as close to the Mexican border in Texas.

Maintaining a positive attitude is essential when chasing an eclipse, which is both a gamble and an adventure. Trish Erzfeld, chair of the Missouri Eclipse Task Force, encourages people to not worry about the weather. No matter the sky conditions, the landscape will still darken considerably during totality. Even if it is cloudy, the sights and sounds of the eclipse will be remarkable, with animals exhibiting strange behaviors. Erzfeld suggests that people should pay attention to the animals, such as cows, horses, birds, and crickets, as they will respond to the changing light. Although it may rain, it will still be a unique experience.

What do I need to have in order to observe the solar eclipse?

You can use eclipse glasses, or if you want a better view you can get a solar filter for your binoculars or telescope.

Solar viewing glasses

On a clear day, the drama will start an hour before the totality as the moon gradually takes a bigger “bite” out of the sun. It is essential to utilize glass or Mylar eclipse viewers from a reliable manufacturer to observe the partial phases safely; you can refer to the American Astronomical Society’s guide to find out which viewers are trustworthy. You can take pleasure in the partial phases of the eclipse which move along slowly, however, the last few minutes before totality will seem to pass by quickly. Also, take a moment to witness the changes in the landscape as colors become muted and shadows become sharper a few minutes prior to totality. Then, the moon will cover the sun completely, making it as dark as night or a deep twilight. Venus, along with other bright planets and stars, will be visible. An extraordinary sight, exclusive to total eclipses, will capture your attention: the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, will come into view, appearing as a feathery ring of light around what looks like a gap in the sky, where the sun used to be.

No amount of anticipation can do justice to the grandeur of a total solar eclipse. It is a sight unlike any other and the most beautiful phenomenon one can view in the heavens. It is also amazing with the unique shadows cast on the ground, and unique sounds that insects and animals make that you will never experience at any other time in your life.

At the point of totality, you can take off your eclipse viewers and look at the eclipse with your own eyes; as long as the sun is totally blocked out by the moon, you can do so. Even binoculars are suitable for viewing. Just keep in mind: As soon as totality has finished, put the binoculars down and put your eclipse viewers back on.

Suggestions for Photographing the Eclipse

How to take pictures of an eclipse book

Veteran eclipse chasers are often quick to advise that one should take the time to sit back, relax and simply enjoy the experience, as the few minutes of totality will pass quickly. While I did get some nice images at the past several eclipses I attended, I always make sure to have them automated as much as possible. There is simply no substitute for looking around at what all is going on and taking it in.

It’s true that we live in a picture-oriented world–which means you might feel the urge to capture a photo of the eclipse. Smartphone cameras have their restrictions, but they are still helpful during an eclipse. I recommend changing the setting to video mode and recording a few minutes before totality. Point your phone towards you and your friends and rotate it vertically to include both the eclipse and the ground. You may be surprised to find that the audio track from the video is as interesting as the video itself.

If you are looking to capture the moment of totality with a DSLR and a telephoto lens, I suggest using a remote control or intervalometer so that all your attention can be focused on the eclipse. Additionally, a sturdy tripod is essential. If your camera has the capability, auto-bracketing with one push of the shutter button can produce multiple images with different exposure times, thus increasing the chance of getting a great shot. The required exposure settings change dramatically as the eclipse gets closer to totality.

It is important to familiarize yourself with your camera’s features before the eclipse. Lastly, never look through the viewfinder or point the telephoto lens at the sun without a solar filter, as it could be damaging to both your camera’s sensor and your eyes.

Keep in mind, the extraordinary close-up pictures of the totally blocked-out sun that you come across in magazines are usually taken by specialized photographers with more practice and higher-quality equipment than the average person with a camera. This doesn’t mean you won’t get a great image that you can look back on with great memories, you just may not get what you see in the magazines.


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The Enigma of Wolf Rayet Stars: Understanding Their Evolution and Characteristics

The Wolf-Rayet Star WR 124

The Wolf-Rayet Star WR 124

‍I have always been fascinated by the many mysteries of the universe, that is one of the driving reasons I became an amateur astronomer. One of the most intriguing phenomena that I have encountered is the Wolf-Rayet star. These stars are some of the most massive and luminous objects in the universe, yet they are also some of the most enigmatic. In this article, I will attempt to pass on a little of the mystery and grandeur that fascinates me so much.

Introduction to Wolf-Rayet Stars

Wolf-Rayet stars are a type of massive stars that are named after their discoverers, French astronomers Charles Wolf and Georges Rayet. These stars have exhausted their lighter elements and are characterized by their strong stellar winds and high luminosity. They are also known for their high temperatures and relatively short lifetimes. Wolf-Rayet stars are believed to be in a transitional phase between the main sequence and supernova stages of stellar evolution.

The first Wolf-Rayet star was discovered in 1867, but it was not until the early 20th century that astronomers began to understand their significance. Today, we know that Wolf-Rayet stars are some of the most important objects in the universe, playing a key role in the evolution of galaxies and the formation of new stars.

Discovery and Classification of Wolf-Rayet Stars

Wolf and Rayet observed certain stars with broad emission lines that were not present in other stars. These emission lines were believed to be due to strong stellar winds.

Since then, astronomers have classified Wolf-Rayet stars into three main types based on their spectra: WN, WC, and WO. The WN type is characterized by nitrogen-rich emission lines, while WC stars are carbon-rich and WO stars are oxygen-rich.

Nitrogen-rich Wolf Rayet stars are the most common. Carbon-rich and Oxygen-rich Wolf Rayet stars are relatively rare.

In addition to the spectral classification of Wolf-Rayet stars, astronomers also classify them according to their luminosity. There are two main categories: supergiant WR stars and dwarf WR stars. Supergiant WR stars are some of the most luminous objects in the universe, while dwarf WR stars are relatively faint and short-lived.

The Evolution of Wolf-Rayet Stars

These stars have a relatively short life compared to other types of massive stars. They are believed to be in a transitional phase between the main sequence and supernova stages of stellar evolution. As Wolf-Rayet stars age, they lose mass through their strong stellar winds. This mass loss can cause the star to evolve into a red supergiant or a luminous blue variable star. Eventually, the star will run out of fuel and undergo a supernova explosion.

The exact evolutionary path of a Wolf Rayet star depends on its initial mass and composition. Higher mass stars are more likely to evolve into Wolf Rayet stars, and nitrogen-rich Wolf Rayet stars are more likely to evolve into red supergiants, while carbon-rich Wolf Rayet stars are more likely to evolve into luminous blue variables.

Characteristics of Wolf-Rayet Stars – Mass, Temperature, Luminosity

Wolf-Rayet stars are some of the most massive and luminous objects in the universe. They are typically more than 20 times as massive as the sun, and they can be up to 100,000 times as luminous. Wolf Rayet stars are also known for their high temperatures, which can reach up to 200,000 Kelvin.

One of the most interesting characteristics is their strong stellar winds. These winds can be up to 10,000 times as strong as the solar wind, and they play a key role in the evolution of the star. The stellar winds of Wolf-Rayet stars can also create complex structures in the surrounding interstellar medium.

Types of Wolf-Rayet Stars – Nitrogen-Rich, Carbon-Rich, and Oxygen-Rich

As mentioned earlier, there are three main types of Wolf Rayet stars: nitrogen-rich, carbon-rich, and oxygen-rich. Nitrogen-rich Wolf Rayet stars are the most common, and they are believed to be in a transitional phase between the main sequence and red supergiant stages of stellar evolution. Carbon-rich Wolf Rayet stars are relatively rare, and they are believed to be in a transitional phase between the main sequence and luminous blue variable stages of stellar evolution. Oxygen-rich Wolf Rayet stars are also rare, and they are believed to be in a transitional phase between the main sequence and Wolf Rayet stages of stellar evolution.

Importance of Wolf-Rayet Stars in the Universe

Wolf-Rayet stars are some of the most important objects in the universe as they play a key role in the evolution of galaxies and the formation of new stars. Wolf-Rayet stars are believed to be the progenitors of many types of supernovae, including Type Ib and Type Ic supernovae.

The strong stellar winds of Wolf Rayet stars can also create complex structures in the surrounding interstellar medium. These structures can include nebulae, bubbles, and shells. These structures can help astronomers to understand the processes of star formation and galactic evolution.

Observing and Studying Wolf-Rayet Stars

Studying Wolf-Rayet stars can be challenging, due to their high temperatures, strong stellar winds, and relatively short lifetimes. However, recent advances in telescopes and instrumentation have made it possible to observe and study these objects in detail.

One of the most important tools for studying Wolf-Rayet stars is spectroscopy which allows astronomers to analyze the elemental composition of a star, as well as its temperature and luminosity. Spectroscopy can also be used to study the complex structures in the surrounding interstellar medium.

The Top Five Visible Examples of Wolf-Rayet Stars

Gamma Velorum

Gamma Velorum is a binary star system located in the constellation Vela. The primary star is a Wolf-Rayet star, while the secondary star is an O-type main-sequence star. The Wolf-Rayet star is losing mass at a very high rate, and its stellar wind is colliding with the wind from the O-type star, producing X-rays.

WR 134

WR 134 is a Wolf-Rayet star located in the constellation Cygnus. It is one of the brightest Wolf-Rayet stars in the sky, with an apparent magnitude of 6.19. WR 134 has a very strong emission in the blue and ultraviolet regions of the spectrum, and its spectrum shows broad absorption lines that are shifted to the red end of the spectrum.

WR 136

WR 136 is a Wolf-Rayet star located in the constellation Cygnus. It is a member of the Cygnus OB2 association, which is one of the most massive associations of young stars in the Milky Way galaxy. WR 136 has a mass of about 25 solar masses and is losing mass at a rate of about 10^-5 solar masses per year.

WR 137

WR 137 is a Wolf-Rayet star located in the constellation Aquila. It is a member of the Aquila OB1 association, which is a group of young stars that are about 500 parsecs from Earth. WR 137 has a mass of about 23 solar masses and is losing mass at a rate of about 10^-5 solar masses per year.

WR 140

WR 140 is a binary star system located in the constellation Cygnus. The primary star is a Wolf-Rayet star, while the secondary star is an O-type main-sequence star. The two stars are very close together and orbit each other with a period of about 7.9 years. The Wolf-Rayet star is losing mass at a very high rate, and its stellar wind is colliding with the wind from the O-type star, producing X-rays and radio emissions.

Challenges in Studying Wolf Rayet Stars

Studying Wolf Rayet stars presents many challenges for astronomers. One of the biggest challenges is their relatively short lifetimes. Wolf Rayet stars typically live for only a few hundred thousand years, which is a relatively short time in astronomical terms.

Another challenge is the strong stellar winds of Wolf-Rayet stars. These winds can create complex structures in the surrounding interstellar medium, which can make it difficult to study the star itself by obscuring it from direct observation.

Finally, the high temperatures of Wolf-Rayet stars can also be a challenge for astronomers. These stars are so hot that they emit most of their radiation in the ultraviolet and X-ray regions of the spectrum, which can be difficult to observe from Earth.

Future Research on Wolf-Rayet Stars

Despite the challenges, there is still much to be learned about Wolf-Rayet stars. Future research will focus on understanding the complex processes that drive the evolution of these stars, as well as the role that they play in the formation of new stars and galaxies.

New telescopes and instrumentation will also play a key role in advancing our understanding of Wolf-Rayet stars. The James Webb Space Telescope, for example, can observe these objects in greater detail than ever before.


Wolf-Rayet stars are some of the most fascinating objects in the universe. They are massive, luminous, and enigmatic. They play a key role in the evolution of galaxies and the formation of new stars. Studying these objects presents many challenges, but advances in technology are making it possible to observe and study them in greater detail than ever before. As we continue to explore the mysteries of the universe, Wolf-Rayet stars will undoubtedly continue to play a key role in our understanding of the cosmos. Not to mention, trying to observe them is just plain fun!

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Large expansion of my YouTube channel!

I have been busy expanding my Youtube page at creating a ton of new content in my renovated video studio. Current work includes quick start guides, product reviews, and general information/tutorials. You should come by the channel and take a look!

Some of my new videos include:

With a huge list of titles currently in the works you are sure to find interesting ones for you. Check them out and let me know what you think. If you have any suggestions, or a topic you would like to see covered, leave me a comment and let me know. I will do my best to answer any question, and produce requested videos when I can.

Be sure to subscribe to the channel and click the notification bell to be one of the first to watch new content as I release it!

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Add your own articles to Allans Stuff!

Do you have a story, how-to, review, or just something fun to share about astronomy/astrophotography with our thousands of visitors every month? Want to tell everyone about the furry little critter that visited you at the dark site, what you think of the new version of Pixinsight, how you captured that tiny slice of a young moon, or how much fun you had the other night doing the Messier binocular challenge? Now you can!

Simply visit and fill out the form. I will read it, and assuming it is the awesome article I know it will be, I’ll approve it and it will be immediately displayed on the blog complete with pictures if you want to upload them. Images can be up to 1500 x 1500 in size and you may include up to 5.

I also welcome clubs to post about upcoming events, lectures, and more!

This feature is for people to share their experiences and love of astronomy and astrophotography related subjects, not for people to make money off my website. Any links to products, services, or competitors are subject to deletion or modification at my sole discretion. Purely commercial spam will be deleted. All posts are held for approval. 

Vendors who would like to post about new products or services will need to visit and get permission before posting.

Go ahead, give it a try!

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Social Media addition to Allans Stuff

Allans  Stuff joins popular social media

It is probably overdue but Allans Stuff is finally joining social media. To start off, we will work on getting our blog posts  linked/posted to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+, in that order. This may take a while to get fully implemented so if you are primarily a Google+ user it may  be a little while before you start seeing content. Of course we will be engaging with our fans on these platforms as well but that too may be a little slow to start with so please bear with us.

We already have a presence on YouTube at with about 550 subscribers and over 100,000 video views, so be sure and drop by and subscribe to the channel. There are a lot of good videos already with more on the way.

Follow Allans Stuff on Facebook as AllansAstroStuff , on Twitter @AllansStuff, on Instagram and on Google+.

Of course you can also send a message using the Contact Me form here on the website, or use our newly revamped astrophotography forums.

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Astrophotography forum back up and running

Relaunch of the AS Astrophotography Forum!

When I first started writing books I thought setting up a forum for support of the books would be a good idea. Unfortunately I never really kept up with it and soon it fell by the wayside. It soon broke to the point that new users could not even register. Sad.

Recently I have had some people ask me what happened to the forums and so I decided to put in some work and get them back up and running. After many upgrades, head pounding, and new additions, the new and improved astrophotography forum is ready for action.

ASForums Astrophotography Forum

While originally intended to support my books, since my books are primarily aimed at astrophotography, that theme will permeate the forums making them mostly an astrophotography forum. This should be pretty obvious with the big moon phase at the top right of the screen!

Of course there is a set of astronomy forums in there too. Even though most of my work has been with a DSLR, and most of my books cover that form of imaging, this is not just a DSLR astrophotography forum.

Since is one of the leading astrophotography websites today, it just made sense to have its own astrophotography forum where you can not only discuss the techniques presented in my books, but general imaging topics too.

So if you have any comments, suggestions, ideas or corrections about any of my books, or want to talk about astrophotography, astronomy, or any other subjects really, head on over to the forums. If you have any problems getting signed up, use the contact form here on to send me a message and I will get it straightened out for you.

Hop on over to the AS Forum and post up some astrophotography pics!

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