Why Katy might be a good locale for watching the eclipse and everything you want to know about how and where to see it.
By Janelle Williams, Katy Magazine Contributor
KATY MAGAZINE, Katy TX - August 20, 2017-- Katy is a great location to view the eclipse because the area is relatively flat. Going to the top of a parking garage or a big field will help prevent obstruction. Be sure to have eye protection, glasses are becoming harder to find or order on line. (More about that later in this story)
The Great American Solar Eclipse
By now, most of us have heard about the Great American Solar Eclipse. A solar eclipse happens when the full moon crosses the path of the sun, seemly blocking out its light. But, what makes it so great and why all the hype if it happens every 18 months?
Why this Eclipse is Different
The eclipse that will happen on August 21, will go across the lower 48 from coast to coast, giving most citizens an opportunity to at least see a partial eclipse. When totality occurs, areas will go as dark as night, animals will think it is night and begin to prepare. Cities in the path of totality are expecting thousands of extras visitors this weekend and on Monday. The west coast will see the biggest influx of people but small towns all across the US are planning eclipse parties! There will be no moon in the night sky on Monday.
Spotting the Eclipse
Katy will have a partial eclipse that will be begin at 11:46 and end at 2:45. The height of the eclipse will be at 1:16 pm with 67% totality. The most important rule of an eclipse is to not look directly at the sun. Because it will seem ‘less light’, one can easily burn their retinas looking at the sun. Here is a good article from the Washington Post explaining what can happen if you look at an eclipse.
Finding Eclipse Glasses
There are a few retailers in town that are selling glasses, always make sure to double check they are AOA approved. You can also use the old, pin prick in a box method. Many will recall doing this during the last major eclipse in 1979. The process is easy and involves putting a few pricks to allow the suns shadow to shine through and you to see the reflection of the eclipse. Article on pin prick in a box method.
Retail Chains that are carrying glasses, it may be best to check if they are in stock before driving around town.
Love's Travel Stops
Toys "R" Us
Watching the Eclipse
If like so many of us and you are stuck inside or don’t want to risk damaging your eyes, NASA will be streaming the eclipse live.
On the Horizon
The next big eclipse in the United States will be April 8, 2024Mexico, Texas, and Southwestern United States will be in the path of totality.
ECLIPSE VIEWING PARTIES
Katy may not have any parties going on but there are several places you can go in Houston to watch and learn about the Great Eclipse of 2017.
Houston Museum of Natural Science
Join HMNS in Sugar Land for The Great Eclipse Viewing Party at the one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights. Telescopes will be on-hand for safe viewing along with out-of-this-world crafts and activities. The first 50 people will receive complimentary solar eclipse glasses, necessary for safely viewing the eclipse. Included with general admission. 11am to 3pm.
Children’s Museum of Houston
1500 Binz St. Houston, TX 77004
Visit from 11am- 3pm for events all day about the eclipse. They will have viewing the Allen Courtyard. A great place to go with the little ones to learn about and experience the eclipse.
Houston Museum of Natural Science
5555 Hermann Park Dr. Houston,Texas 77030
Join HMNS as we experience a partial solar eclipse right here in Houston. The next eclipse of this caliber will not be visible in the United States until 2024, so you don’t want to miss this! The Burke Baker Planetarium will hold six special, 15-minute programs between noon and 2 p.m. explaining the aspects of the eclipse and including images from Houston, the center line of totality and even the Moon. Tickets are only $4, and can be purchased at the box office! Finally at 2 p.m., a special showing of Starry Night Express will feature a live feed from Casper, Wyoming, with Museum staff in the path of totality. Filtered telescopes will be set up outside the Sundial Plaza at the front entrance of HMNS, and the Museum store will offer solar glasses that you will need to observe the eclipse safely. Outdoor events are weather dependent
Levy Park: Eclipse over Houston, 12-2 pm
3801 Eastside St. Houston, TX 77098
The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), in partnership with Levy Park and the Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library, is helping Houstonians experience the Eclipse over Houston on August 21, 2017. On that day, the Moon will pass directly between the Earth and sun, casting the Moon’s shadow on the continental U.S. from coast to coast for more than 90 minutes. This is the first total solar eclipse visible over the US since 1981 and the first since 1918 to be seen coast to coast. Join scientists and educators from the LPI, and your community, at Levy Park and Freeman Library to witness this historical event you are sure to talk about for many years to come! At both locations, safe, solar viewing glasses will be available. **NEVER look directly at the sun without proper viewing equipment.**
University of Houston: Astronomy Society
Space Center Houston, 11am-3 pm
1601 E NASA Pkwy. Houston, TX 77058
Join the Space Center for Pop up activities on the eclipse along with indoor viewing if the weather is bad. They will have guest speakers talking about the sun and moon all day.
MORE EDUCATION RESOURCES FOR CHILDREN
The ability to experience an eclipse is a rare and exciting event. Since this eclipse is happening across the entire Continental United States there is also a lot of hype. Several organizations have provided great learning resources for families.
NASA is ready for the eclipse and excited the country is following along! They have a website dedicated to K-12 education along with fun art projects. Our family will be doing the eclipse time capsule as the next eclipse will be the year our oldest is graduating high school. Eclipse in a Box. NASA has provided a one-stop shop of education resources and a variety of activities to help with the anticipation.
National Park Service
The National Park Service (NPS) has created junior ranger badge with great booklet on the Solar Eclipse for children to do. If you are not going to be in a national park during the eclipse, you can still research and complete the booklet. Completed booklets can be mailed to the the Park Service and they will send your child a special eclipse junior ranger badge.
University of Illinois
Illinois is in the path of the totality and the university will be holding fantastic events all weekend leading up to Monday. They have put together some great education activities for children to do. Many of these are more of a lesson plan but provide a great way for children to understand what is happening.
Janelle Williams is a Katy mom to two daughters and a freelance writer and social media contributor for Katy Magazine.