Visit This Southern Coastal Park For The Longest Views Of The Solar Eclipse

For recreational stargazers and professional astronomers alike, the cosmos are captivating. From planetary alignments and meteor showers to spectacular supermoon events, celestial occurrences can be endlessly thrilling. This October, eye-on-the-sky enthusiasts will be treated to yet another impressive sight with the arrival of an annular solar eclipse.

The last time a solar eclipse of this type occurred was back in 2012. This year, the 11-year wait for a similar experience is finally over with the annular solar eclipse due to occur on October 14. This event, which is referred to as a "ring of fire," is anticipated to be viewable across at least eight U.S. states. It will likely be viewable across Mexico, Central America, and South America as well.

The opportunity to experience a solar eclipse of this kind is sure to inspire spectators across North America. However, its impact is made even greater when you find yourself in a prime place to view the spectacle for as long as possible. In 2023, the absolute best place for extended views of this solar eclipse in the U.S. will be the southern coastal park of Padre Island National Seashore. This Texas barrier island along the Gulf of Mexico is scenic, inviting, and slated to be one of the very best seats in the house when the solar eclipse comes into view.

A fiery view to enjoy in Texas

The "ring of fire" name for this particular type of solar eclipse is derived from the especially vibrant appearance lucky viewers will witness when it occurs. The alignment of the Moon and Sun during this event makes the Moon look smaller than the Sun by just the smallest measure. While the Moon manages to block out the majority of the light as it passes between the Sun and the Earth, the outer rim of the Sun is left exposed. This creates a fiery outer ring appearance that lends itself well to the eclipse's name.

Padre Island National Seashore in Texas offers solar eclipse viewers 66 miles of coastline from which to settle in and savor the sights overhead on October 14. The eclipse is expected to occur here at 11:56 a.m. CDT. Those who are aligning their telescopes for the spectacle will want to make sure they're positioned at 49 degrees over the horizon facing in a south-southeast direction.

Once the solar eclipse occurs, viewers watching from Padre Island National Seashore are expected to be able to enjoy the sight for a full four minutes and 52 seconds. If you're worried about getting set up in time, the team over at NASA has created a convenient and interactive solar eclipse map for observers. Here, you can track eclipse progress in real-time from your specific destination to make sure you're ready to go when the view is set to get impressive.

Where to watch and what to bring

There are many places to set up your telescope or beach chair to view the solar eclipse along Padre Island National Seashore. However, the most unobstructed vantage points are found at Whitecap Beach. This stretch of shoreline is located at the northern end of the island and hosts the Padre Island Seawall. Here, you can feel free to enjoy a scenic stroll while you wait for the big moment to arrive.

Getting to the Padre Island National Seashore on time for some of the best solar eclipse views is simple — but controlling the weather isn't. Padre Island boasts a subtropical climate, which makes for refreshingly mild winters. However, it also comes with an increased risk of rain during hurricane season from June to November. The weather this time of year can change very quickly, so it's a good idea to keep a close eye on the forecast before making your solar eclipse viewing plans.

If the forecast for October 14 happens to be clear, don't forget to pack the gear you'll need to make it a safe viewing experience. You'll need to invest in a quality pair of solar eclipse glasses to protect your eyes. If you're planning to observe through a telescope or binoculars, you'll also need to outfit your gear with a solar filter for the lenses.