Sketching the Solar Total Eclipse 2024, Live From North Mexico

Not many fascinating events usually happen in Monclova, a mid-size industrial town right at the center of the northern state of Coahuila, Mexico, so I was thrilled when I first learned that we were going to be within the path of totality of the Solar Total Eclipse on April 8th, 2024. The first total solar eclipse that I witnessed in my lifetime, was right in my hometown. “What a great opportunity to capture this moment in my sketchbook!” I thought, looking for alternative ways to make this day unforgettable.

After months of waiting, the day finally arrived. I set off to a public area where around 2,000 people gathered to watch this breathtaking astronomical phenomenon that will not occur again here until 2071. I got there at 11:00 a.m., right on time to start witnessing the gradual transition of the moon on its way to completely cover the sun. I decided to capture those different stages on my sketchbook along with some of the people who were there waiting and observing the phenomenon through fancy telescopes and cameras.

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When I was drawing, I felt someone looking over at my sketchbook. A friendly guy came to me and said that he had always wanted to sketch outside but had never dared to. I invited him to join me for some urban sketching but unfortunately, he was just a tourist in town. Hopefully, he got some inspiration to go outside and draw, wherever place he lives in.

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Finally, the moment arrived: The sky quickly started to turn dark. The lights of the city suddenly turned on. The mesmerized crowd started to cheer and no one was able to contain the excitement. At that moment, we were all humbled by the fact that we were about to witness a truly unique singularity in space and time, not knowing for sure if we would get another chance to do so in our lifetime. Totality was reached at 12:23:42 and it lasted for about 3 minutes. The most magical 3 minutes that I have ever experienced. I quickly took out my sketchbook and drew a big dark circle with a yellow shinning effect around it. There it was: the total solar eclipse of 2024 captured forever in my memory, and just in case I may someday forget, also in my sketchbook.

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In the blink of an eye, the sky started to turn light again: a second beautiful sunrise within the same day. People put on their eclipse glasses again and all I could hear was cries of joy and amazement everywhere around me. Through these sketches that will live in my sketchbook forever, I am sure I will be able to easily recall this experience: how it looked and how it felt to be there and see it in real-time. The eclipse was a real gift from the universe to us tiny humans.

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Melissa Jabey is a Mexican self-taught artist and writer that first joined Urban Sketchers while living in Beijing, China. She now resides in North Mexico where she continues her drawing journey. You can find more of her work on Instagram @Melissa.Jabey

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Melissa Jabey
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