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Locals stared straight at the sun for partial solar eclipse

Children and their parents stood outside early Thursday night safely staring directly at the sun, which many remarked looked like Pac-Man.

Thursday was the last partial solar eclipse of the year as the moon passed between the Earth and the sun, covering about 40 percent of the sun, said Sarah Twidal, planetarium manager at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.

It was also the only partial solar eclipse viewable from Fort Worth this year, Twidal said. So the museum hosted a watch party where it provided visitors with mylar film glasses that allowed them to stare straight at the sun.

The museum also allowed visitors to look through a Mead solar telescope equipped with a filter that allowed for a closer view of the sun before and during the eclipse.

Claudia Clark, who owns The Cupcake Cottage on Camp Bowie Boulevard, said her family has a museum membership for days like this.

“I remember trying to see an eclipse when I was young,” Clark said. “I tried to use a black garbage bag. I didn’t know what I was doing.”

Her sons, Christian, 6, and Ethan, 10, were excited to be able to stare at the sun without burning their eyes. It was so “awesome,” Christian said as he swung his arms.

Children stood on the tips of their toes while adults crouched down to peer through the telescope’s filter. The filter blocked 99.9 percent of the sun’s visible light, Twidal said. What appears to be tiny block dots on the orange-sherbet-colored sun are magnetic storms, she told the excited children.

Cousins Caroline Bachhofer, 10, and Lilly Bachhofer, 9, both agreed that the sun looked as if someone had taken a “bite out of a cookie,” as the moon started to cover the sun.

“It’s neat to see the sun when it’s not early in the morning and we don’t have to get up,” Caroline joked.

A total eclipse of the sun will be visible from a “narrow corridor” of the U.S. in August 2017, according to NASA’s website.

Scott Sumner, assistant planetarium manager, said an eclipse covering nearly 100 percent of the sun will occur in 2024, right over Fort Worth.

Want to know when the next eclipse will be? Check out NASA’s timetable at eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov

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