Houston, Texas Solar Eclipse 2017

Solar Glasses Safety, Eclipse Timeline & Fun Projection Experiments


by Bernadette Verzosa


*Save the Date: the next Total Solar Eclipse visible in the United States – April 8, 2024 – when Dallas is scheduled for "Totality."


    This image on the left is what we can expect to see in Houston during Monday's Solar Eclipse, according to the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI). On August 21, the moon will pass directly between the Earth and the sun, casting the moon's shadow on the continental United States. While some American cities will experience "totality," a total solar eclipse, Houston is projected to experience a partial solar eclipse with about 70 percent of the sun being blocked.

    "What makes this special is it is visible in the United States and it's very rare to be in the right place at the right time. In a solar eclipse, one half of one percent of the Earth's surface is in the position to see a total eclipse. It all depends on the moon's passing and how the Earth is rotated," says Andy Shaner, LPI's Public Engagement Lead.
    This is the first total solar eclipse visible over the U.S. since 1981 and the first since 1918 to be seen from the West Coast to the East Coast. The total solar eclipse of June 8, 1918, nearly 100 years ago, crossed the U.S. from Washington State to Florida. The path of totality for the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 is similar, crossing from Washington State to South Carolina (see map below).   



     LPI is hosting "Eclipse Over Houston" events at two locations: Levy Park at 3801 Eastside and Freeman Library at 16616 Diana Lane. Scientists and educators will be distributing free solar viewing glasses at the gatherings while supplies last. They are reminding everyone NEVER to look directly at the sun without proper viewing equipment. 

    "If you look at the sun at anytime, whether eclipse or not, a split second can overwhelm your eyes. When that direct light hits your eye, and your eye focuses and makes it even more intense, it can lead to blindness," Shaner warns. "During an eclipse, people are more likely to look right at the sun so we see more instances of damage. If you are looking through a telescope, you need a filter in front of the telescope. Proper solar glasses have a mylar filter to block out 99 percent of the light coming through."  


11:45 a.m.
  Eclipse Starts
1:20 p.m.
  70 percent
Maximum Coverage
2:45 p.m.
  Eclipse Ends


     Shaner encourages families to marvel together at this rare phenomenon. "Go out there and participate. Experiencing the eclipse with other people is a great social opportunity. Kids will remember it and we are sharing the experience together and at the same time as other people in the U.S.," he says.   

Shaner suggests leading children through the following fun projection experiments:


If you're near a tree, look at the ground in the shade. Observe the gaps between the leaves and you'll see dozens of round circles of light that look like partial eclipses.  


With your back to the sun, hold up a colander. Tell the kids to look at the ground or a piece of paper under the colander. You should see multiple projections of the eclipses – as many holes as the colander has. The aluminum blocks the light so the light is split into multiple eclipses.


Poke a hole into a note card or piece of paper. With your back to the sun, move the hole around and observe the projection of a single eclipse.  


      LPI is a research institute funded by NASA.

      For more information on its educational events for the public, CLICK HERE.   

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