If you want to be in the coveted “path of totality” — where the full sun will be blocked by the shadow of the moon, the sky will go eerily dark and animals will believe it’s nighttime and act strange — the nearest such place to Fort Worth is Kansas City, Mo., about 520 miles north.
But St. Joseph, Mo., about 40 miles up the road from there, is pretty much directly under the total eclipse and will be dark for almost 2 minutes and 40 seconds. So why not go all the way?
Because Monday’s a workday and a school day, that’s why. And most of us didn’t take it off. Besides, there’ll be about 1.3 million other sky watchers in Missouri angling for a spot, too.
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So where can the rest of us go to join the party?
- The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History will livestream the event beginning at 11:40 a.m. in the Omni Theater, along with telescope viewing outdoors during the eclipse and other activities throughout the day. Note: The maximum partial eclipse here will be at 1:08 p.m. when about 75 percent of the sun will be blocked. All activities are included in the price of admission.
- The museum is teaming up with the city of Fort Worth for an event at the East Regional Library from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. that will include eclipse glasses, telescopes and video.
- TCU will host an event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Campus Commons with solar-viewing glasses, telescopes and pinhole projectors on site. There will also be a live feed from the path of totality.
- UTA is having an event from noon to 2:30 p.m. at the UTA Planetarium. Visitors can watch a show, “Astronomy 101: Solar Eclipses,” before the eclipse happens. Cost for that is $6 general admission; $4 for students, seniors and children. There will be no charge for watching the eclipse. Special eclipse glasses will be sold for $2.50 each.
- The Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas will have an outdoor watch party with a live NASA feed and other activities on the Museum Plaza from noon to 2 p.m.
- UNT will set up telescopes for an eclipse viewing at the Rafes Urban Astronomy Center on Tom Cole Road southwest of the campus. The event lasts from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Cost is $3 a person, with the first 200 people receiving free certified solar glasses.
- The Haltom City Public Library is hosting a sack lunch watch party on the library lawn beginning at 12:30 p.m., and it will have eclipse safety glasses available.
- Weatherford College will broadcast the event live in the room 104 lecture hall in the Academic Building beginning at 11:30 a.m. The first 20 to arrive will receive eclipse glasses.
- Tarleton State University in Stephenville will have a viewing party in the campus planetarium beginning at 10:30 a.m., with live images coming from Madras, Ore., and Cody, Wyo.
- Ray Roberts Lake State Park Isle du Bois is hosting an event from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will have a telescope equipped with a solar filter. Visitors will meet in Pavilion 1 at the Day Use Area. Entrance to the park is $7 for adults and free for children 12 and younger.
- NASA is livestreaming the eclipse, too, if you want to watch on your desktop, laptop, cellphone or tablet. NASA TV is covering the eclipse live from the ground and air, including from the International Space Station. It will feature views from NASA research aircraft, high-altitude balloons, satellites and specially modified telescopes. Also, live reports from eight cities along the path and a Coast Guard ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
- NASA is also providing audio descriptions of the eclipse and a way to follow the eclipse by touch. Its Eclipse Soundstage Project will include descriptions of the eclipse as it happens, recordings of the changing environmental sounds during the eclipse, and an interactive “rumble map” app that will allow users to visualize the eclipse through touch.
Of course, you can always just step outside. Only be sure not to look directly at the sun, which can cause permanent eye damage. The only safe way to look at the sun is through special eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers, experts say. Or make your own pinhole camera. You don’t want to use sunglasses of any kind, color film, X-ray film, smoked glass or floppy disks.
Beware of fake and unsafe glasses. The American Astronomical Society has compiled a list of reputable vendors of such eyewear, but says that most are sold out. It also has a useful link on its website on how to view a solar eclipse safely.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory created a cool interactive app showing the path of the eclipse and what it will look like as it crosses the U.S. from the West Coast to the East Coast. You can add your city to the list to get a view from where you are.
But it might not be a good idea to get too excited about the view of the sun from these parts on Monday, judging by the simulated models we’ve seen.
Here’s one from the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History of what it will look like from the ground:
Kind of hard to get excited from that perspective.
“It’ll still be pretty awesome outside,” assured Sarah Twidal, manager of the Noble Planetarium and a NASA ambassador. “I think coverage of 75 percent of the sun is still something to see.”
But Twidal won’t be here to see it. Instead she’s heading to Oregon where she’ll stand in a friend’s back yard and livesteam the total eclipse, sending it back to Fort Worth via the museum’s YouTube channel. It will be shown in the Omni Theater as well as in the planetarium, the museum’s innovation studios and possibly on the wall of the atrium.
“I’m thrilled to see my first in-person solar eclipse,” Twidal said. “But I’m a little nervous to be leaving the museum, to be away and not helping out.”
Even if you’re not wowed by the eclipse this year, be patient. Texas will be directly in the path of totality during the next total solar eclipse in seven years, on April 8, 2024. You won’t have to go anywhere. But you might want to get your solar eclipse glasses well ahead of time. And keep an eye on the farm animals.
What to know
- This will be the first total eclipse to cross the United States from coast to coast since 1918.
- The total eclipse will be visible in about a 70-mile-wide strip stretching across 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina.
- In North Texas, the eclipse will begin at 11:40 a.m. and end at 2:40 p.m.
- The maximum partial eclipse here will be at 1:08 p.m. when about 75 percent of the sun will be blocked.
- The maximum duration of totality for the eclipse will be 2 minutes and 40 seconds, over Carbondale, Ill.
- Anywhere from 1.8 million to 7.4 million people are expected to travel to the path of totality.
- The shadow of the moon will be moving at 2,240 mph, close to the average orbital speed of the moon around the Earth, when it arrives at the coast of Oregon and 1,354 mph when it passes the South Carolina coast.
- The next total solar eclipse in the Americas will occur on April 8, 2024. Texas will be in the total eclipse path.
Sources: NASA, greatamericaneclipse.com, space.com, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History