It’s the day after the eclipse. 

To say that the 2024 eclipse was an adventure, is an understatement.  It was, in fact, an absolute whirlwind. 

2 a.m. Monday Morning, April 8th

Planning Ahead

To tell the story, I have to start two years ago, when we began to make plans for the 2024 eclipse.   When I say “we” I am referring to the two people with me during the 2017 eclipse, my friends, David and Dennis.   Along the way, we found other friends who were going to join us on this trip.  So we had booked a cabin in Texas, directly on the line of totality in Kerrville Texas. 

Casa “Not To Be” in Kerrville Texas

That’s the thing with astronomical events. You can never know how the weather will turn out. Because of the nature of these events, you can’t just simply go the next day or wait until the next year. In the case of a total eclipse, it’s often 5 to 10, or even 20 years before they come back around. The 2024 eclipse marks the last of two really nice eclipse paths through the central US. Fortunately, I was able to catch the 2017 eclipse when it was 45 miles from my front door. Unfortunately, the 2024 eclipse required more planning with a totality line that stretched from southern Texas to Maine.

Highlighted line of totality and one of MANY forcast maps we looked atmap from AccuWeather

The Uncertainty of Weather

One might think this large line of totality would make it much easier to view the eclipse, however weather often has other ideas. As was the case this time, a fast moving set of storms sandwiched the totality line in clouds. From Texas to Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio, the line was shrouded in clouds. It did look to be fairly clear in Maine, however it also had a foot of snow on the ground. No thanks.  There were literally only three or four places in the US that had decent skies.  I suppose I should have realized with everyone having to change their plans at the last minute that the traffic might be a bit of a problem, but more on that later. I spent most of last week watching the weather forecasts about 10 times a day. It was just impossible to figure out where it would be clear on eclipse day.

“S” Stands for…


Friday came, and we had deadlines to cancel reservations or pay full amounts. After coming to the painful decision to cancel Texas, we started looking at Arkansas, Oklahoma, and other places along the line. Our group somewhat diminished simply because of the shear steps required to get 300-500 miles away quickly. The nature of the weather front made it impossible to select a place with any accuracy. So, in the back of my head, I had started to resign myself to the potential of missing the 2024 eclipse.

But that’s when a friend and encouragement stepped in. As I sat reading on Sunday night, a phone call came from a friend with an invitation to a location only five hours away. After some encouragement from my wife, I decided to throw my already packed equipment into my car and leave Chattanooga at 2 AM in the morning.  That’s right, 2 AM.

8:51pm Sunday Night…

The Last Minute

This was a completely spur of the moment decision and even then, the weather forecast still seemed to predict clouds. But the invitation and the encouragement were enough to make me take a chance. To be honest, life has been very busy of late, and I have just had a lot of things to do as most of us do. I often feel like I’m behind or should be doing other things more productive, however my wife reminded me that sky and space were my “things.” If I did indeed miss this eclipse, or at least not make an effort to view it, I would regret it. Sometimes exhaustion will blind a person to their love and passion, so I’m thankful my wife encouraged me. I called my friend back and said, “I’ll see you in the morning.”

T Minus Eleven Hours

The trip to Benton, Illinois was somewhat uneventful. I drove through some pretty amazing thunderstorms with awesome lightning in Nashville and then encountered giant walls of fog just outside of Paducah, Kentucky. The fog also caused an issue while trying to find a breakfast location in Marion, Illinois. Regardless, I made it to Benton and joined my two friends. Incidentally, these were the same two friends I witnessed the 2017 eclipse with, Dennis and David.

Reunited! And it feels so good!


After reuniting with the group, we set up our equipment and waited for the event to take place. The sky became increasingly more and more clear… C L E A R! It was a miracle, truly a miracle. I really have never seen it get more clear. It usually just gets more cloudy!

Actual Sky pic before the eclipse!

When it comes to photography and weather, I often feel like I land on the wrong side of the coin. However, this day, that was not the case. The skies turned blue with just a few wispy clouds occasionally streaming through. We joked; we laughed; we talked about the hobby of astronomy and how punishing it could be. Truly though, anything that you love can be difficult, and it’s the perseverance that makes it a wonderful thing.  

9 telescopes for four people. Good odds!


Aside from a few hardware glitches, everyone had a wonderful time, and we all captured fantastic shots of the 2024 eclipse. The location was wonderful and I am truly thankful to my friend David for inviting us. The folks at the camp were also very accommodating and kind. They joined us to look through our telescopes and ask questions as we fought various gremlins in the software. Having witnessed the 2017 totality, I must say this one was a bit different. It did seem darker at totality and also a good bit cooler than the 2017 eclipse.

The 2024 Total Solar Eclipse from Benton, Illinois

The other standout was a giant prominence on the southern edge of the solar disc that was visible with the naked eye. You could even make out the pinkish orange color. It was absolutely fantastic.  The eclipse lasted 3 1/2 hours long, and as soon as it was over, we packed up and had to leave the location as it was being used later that day. Little did I know that the most difficult part of the journey awaited me on the road home.

Total Eclipse Selfie!

Hurry Up and Wait

I left Benton, Illinois at 3:25 PM central time. My friends Dennis and Carrie went north, while David and I went south. Because of the massive amounts of equipment we took to photograph the eclipse, we were all in separate cars. As David and I were a bit staggered hitting the highway, we were able to relay the trickiness of the traffic back-and-forth from each other. It was bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way from Benton, Illinois to Nashville, Tennessee.

The trip to the eclipse had taken me just five hours. The trip home was going to take closer to 11.5 hours. Waze took me on and off the freeway, and the menacing thunderstorms did not help driving at night on backroads while exhausted.  Luckily almost 30 people had texted and called me during the eclipse to ask if I was in totality, so I spent most of the time driving calling those folks to catch up and to relay my experience.  I pulled in to my driveway at home at around 1:50 AM Eastern time… that’s right… almost 24 hours after I had left. 

Happy Camper!

You Never Know unless you Go

Today I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck,  but I also realize that yesterday was a gift. If you’ve never seen a total eclipse, I highly recommend you make the effort to see one- not just an eclipse, but a total eclipse. There is a reason why history is full of accounts of eclipses. They are tremendous moments for life on earth. Now that we are an educated society, we understand the relationship between the Earth, Moon and the Sun. But it is still no less fascinating that our moon can perfectly obscure the Sun. Just think of what an eclipse would look like on Mars with its two weirdly-shaped moons! It’s probably not as grandiose as our Moon. 

So, now that you’ve experienced my journey, here are my photos from the 2024 eclipse. This is not all of them of course, but my favorite ones during totality, from the last sliver of light from the Sun being eclipsed by the Moon, to the totality of darkness in complete coverage.  These photos represent one of my great passions, and I hope you feel connected to the great mysteries of life as you look at them.  

8 Photo Progression of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

Incidentally, if you would like to purchase a photo, you can find them on my online print shop here. 

Click Here to Purchase a Print from the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.

Please feel free to share, and thanks for reading! 

Clear skies,  


2 Replies to “The 2024 Eclipse”

  1. Matt,

    Thanks so much for sharing the story. I’ve been sending it to all the people I know who are interested and they’re all commenting how much they really enjoyed the adventure of it. Though you’re not as crazy as those storm chasers, but not that far off either. Keep on chasing.

    -Charlie B
    Your neighbor

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