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It may be more than two years away, but Gatesville City Manager Bill Parry told the Gatesville City Council to anticipate a significant number of visitors flocking to the area for a better view of a rare astronomical event—a total solar eclipse.

Parry talked about a total solar eclipse that is supposed to take place on April 8, 2024.

He said Gatesville is in an area which also includes Kennedale and Fredericksburg that is expected to have the longest duration of the eclipses, estimated to be about 3 minutes and 24 seconds.

Parry said he told Gatesville Police Chief Nathan Gohlke to figure out how to deal with as many as 40,000 cars going down Main Street that day.

People often travel great distances to experience these events, and Parry said a city’s population can sometimes temporarily swell 10 to 15 times the current population in response to eclipses. He said he had been notified back in October that someone had already requested to reserve a local hotel room for that date.

The eclipse is expected to occur at 1:33 p.m. “and there won’t be another for 100 years or so,” Parry said.

Gatesville residents have a couple of years to prepare and can mark their 2024 calendars for the unusual phenomenon.

Solar eclipse facts

  • What is a solar eclipse? It is the astronomical condition when the moon moves between Earth and the Sun, casting s shadow on the Earth, filly or partially blocking the Sun’s light in some areas, according to NASA. During an annular solar eclipse, the moon is far enough away from Earth that it appears smaller in the sky than the Sun. Since the moon does not block the entire view of the Sun, it will look like a dark disk on top of a larger, bright disk. This creates what appears to be a ring of fire around the moon.
  • According to the Great American Eclipse website, the April 8, 2024 event will be the next solar eclipse over Mexico, the United States and Canada. The totality is projected to first enter Mexico, spread across Texas and cut a diagonal path to Maine before entering the maritime provinces of eastern Canada.
  • The National Eclipse website notes that the April 2024 eclipse will carve a narrow path of totality from southwest to northeast across 13 U.S. states. However, to experience the total phase of the eclipse, viewers must be located within the narrow path of the totality (which includes Gatesville), with the duration of the totality lasting longest at the centerline. The longest duration of totality in the U.S. will be in Texas and the shortest will be in Maine.
  • “Texas is also widely considered to have the best eclipse-day weather prospects in the country,” the National Eclipse website states.
  • The Gatesville area is expected to have one of the longest lasting states of totality during the April 2024 solar eclipse – lasting an expected 4 minutes and 23.9 seconds.
  • Although there was a major eclipse seen in parts of the United States in 2017, according to CNET, the last total solar eclipse before that in the USA was in 1918. That 2017 eclipse only resulted in a 70 percent totality in Central Texas, while the 2024 event is expected to be a 100 percent totality.
  • Although parts of the continental U.S. are expected to experience total solar eclipses on Aug. 23, 2044, Aug. 12, 2045, March 30, 2052, May 11, 2078 and May 1, 2079, none of them are expected to be visible anywhere close to Gatesville. No other total solar eclipses are expected to be visible in Central Texas until at least the 23rd century, according to astronomical projections.