Totality from Mazatlán, Mexico

Eclipse Day Excitement: Unity and Wonder on the Mazatlán Shore

Like many people in the U.S., I saw my first total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, and it was a transformative experience.  Since then, I have chased total solar eclipses in Argentina in 2019 and Australia in 2023. The 2024 total solar eclipse would be my fourth total solar eclipse, and since it was going through our backyard, it was the perfect opportunity to introduce this jaw dropping event to my family. Looking at the resources provided by Xavier Jubier ( and Jay Anderson (, we planned our trip to Mazatlán, Mexico where Totality would be the longest I have ever witnessed, a staggering 4min:18sec. I also liked the idea it was the first land region the  shadow of the moon would touch as it raced along the Earth’s surface. Everything was going smoothly until about a week before the eclipse, when NOAA’s prediction for the eclipse path over Texas showed extensive cloud cover, causing many chasers to pivot to the north east. Mazatlán and inland Mexico showed a chance of high clouds that didn’t threated to obscure totality, along with the family vacation on a beach town it was compelling to take those odds and go for it.

We arrived a few days before the event and scouted a location on the beach close to our accommodation. Mazatlán got busy over the weekend, suggesting that Monday, April 8th, the beach area would be rocking out. I did a mock run of the eclipse to estimate how much ibuprofen I might need for the anticipated cricks in my neck afterwards as Totality was  a whopping 69deg in elevation. As expected on the day of the eclipse, locals, tourists and eclipse chasers all descended on the beautiful waterfront. The town holds a famous carnival every year in February so they have experience in managing traffic and crowds. The main road (Av del Mar) was closed to traffic on the morning of the 8th so the walkway although busy, never overflowed on our side of town (location). It was very different story near the ‘Golden Zone and ‘Centro’ part of Mazatlán. I set up 2 cameras with telephoto lenses, one with a 500mm lens and the second with a 70mm. A wide angle with a 14mm I kept on standby to shoot a few frames during totality itself. 

I was repping my Amateur Astronomers Association of NY with my t-shirt too, a suitable attire for the event only complimented with oodles of sun screen. Since there was not much wind on eclipse day I put the 500mm super telephoto lens on a tracker and approximately polar aligned with a compass heading. I amusingly set the polar alignment of ‘The Tank’ (my sky-watcher star adventurer tracker) to about 23 degrees, and adjusted the camera from ~53 degree elevation at C1 and double checked all the tightening screws since C4 was 73 degrees in elevation!  We got high clouds as expected but some threatening middle clouds coming over the horizon before C2, fortunately they stayed till C4.

The arrival of Totality sparked thunderous cheers, echoing along the coastline. We got a nice view of Totality, as the moon snapped into place to create the black sun, we were in the shadow of the moon and it was glorious. The corona was visible to the naked eye, though it seemed blunted due to the high clouds. The highlight however was the unmistakable pink-hot white glow coming of the solar disk edge at about it’s 3 O’ Clock position. A quick glace to the camera that was bracketing the shots of totality confirmed we were viewing a massive solar prominence!! Jaw drop, mic drop.

The diamond ring was amazing at ~C2 and ~C3 and we could see the optical phenomenon of the other solar corona caused by sunlight being refracted and throwing color on the surrounding clouds. I was quite excited to share this experience with my family that I was apparently shouting “Vamos, Vamos!!” during Totality and I don’t even speak Spanish (unfortunately for me). Must be an after effect cheering for Rafael Nadal over the years.

As the final moments of Totality slipped away, enveloped in the warmth of a family embrace, we knew we were witnessing more than just an astronomical phenomenon; we were forging an indelible memory etched deep within ourselves. This was my fourth total solar eclipse but the first with my family and it left an indelible impression. Totality transcends mere observation; it taps into a primal instinct that unites humans and animals alike, perceived as a ‘oneness’ with the cosmos. Indeed, 99% is not sufficient—it’s the Totality that renders an experience truly extraordinary. A total solar eclipse isn’t merely a spectacle; it’s a sacred rite, an essential pilgrimage in the journey of a lifetime.


Chirag Upreti.

Bronx, (New York City)


Autobiographical sketch: Chirag Upreti is a neuroscientist and astrophotographer whose work has been published in top astronomy publications and websites worldwide, including NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD), and National Geographic’s Your Shot. His images of the nightsky have consistently captured the imagination, with multiple publications in Astronomy magazine, BBC’s Sky At Night Magazine and Sky & Telescope magazine. Alongside his photographic achievements, Chirag is a guest contributor to The World At Night (TWAN) and a member of the International Dark Sky Association and the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. More of his work can be found on his website: and Instagram

1. Totality with helmet streamers through high clouds seen from from Mazatlan, Mexico.
2. Diamond ring and the story of two different corona
3. Eclipse progression from diamond ring to totality.