HOUSTON - It's going to be a viewing party for the record books. Plans are underway across the Houston area to make the upcoming solar eclipse something you won't forget.
"A solar eclipse is when the moon blocks out the sun," George Observatory operations director Joshua Rohn said. "It can be a partial eclipse, where it only blocks out part of the sun, or a total eclipse. In this case, it will be where it blocks out all of the sun."
People who live between Oregon and South Carolina will see a total eclipse on Aug. 21. But why now?
"Why don't we always have a lunar or solar eclipse every month? That's because the rotation of the moon and the sun are not consistent," Rohn said. "Sometimes it's a little east or west as it goes around the earth.
It just has to be the perfect distance of the sun, moon and Earth and at the perfect angle so you can see it just right."
Even though we are not in the direct path of the eclipse, there will still be plenty to see in Houston.
"It's really cool. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Aria Shanker, 15, said.
"Space is something unknown," Ishaan Kapoor, 16, said. "Normally, as kids, we don't think about (it). It's fun to see what is happening outside the Earth. I think it's a cool experience to see it."
Aria and Ishaan are part of a group of teen volunteers who work at the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land. They will be helping to run an eclipse viewing party.
"We will have special eclipse viewing telescopes here that people can actually look at the sun through safely," museum director Adrienne Barker said. "We will also have crafts related to that for the younger folks and we will have sunglasses for people to view."
At Levy Park in the Greenway Plaza area, eclipse watch stations will be set up.
"We have a great water feature the children can come play in and see the eclipse at the same time," Levy Park program coordinator Lindsey Carey said.
The Children's Museum of Houston will host several activities starting with a Planning for an Eclipse Workshop on Saturday, Aug. 19, at the Maker Annex. Workshops begin at 10:30 a.m. Price is $5 with pre-registration.
On Monday, Aug. 21, CMoH will host a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the courtyard.
Attendees will receive pinhole viewer postcards. PRINT YOUR OWN HERE
The Lunar and Planetary Institute will host a watch party at the Freeman Library in Clear Lake. But you don't need to go to a specific spot to get a good view of the eclipse.
"You can watch it in downtown Houston and it will be just as spectacular as you out in the middle of nowhere -- anywhere where you can get a clear view of the sun," Rohn said.
Just remember, you never want to look directly into the sun. You can make your own pinhole projector to safely view the eclipse.
Do-It-Yourself Pinhole Projector
- 2 pieces of white cardboard paper, or paper plates
- 1 thumbtack
Poke a hole in the middle of one sheet of paper. With your back toward the sun, hold that piece of paper above your shoulder to allow the sun to shine on the paper. The second sheet of paper will act as a viewing screen. YouHold it in front of you and you will see an image of the sun projected on the paper through the pinhole.
Another option is to build a DIY tube viewing device.
"Building the cardboard viewing box is very simple," Barker said. "It's taking a piece of flexible cardboard and bending it so you have three sides. Then you have an opening that the sun image is projected through onto a viewing screen at the end. You leave one side open so you can actually see that image once it's in there on the viewing scape." Click here to see specific instructions.
"It's a way to see the eclipse without looking directly at the sun so you don't (damage) your eyes," Mia Venkatesan, 17, said. "You can see how the eclipse is moving through the time period as it's happening."
"This doesn't come around every day," Kapoor said. "(It's) a cool opportunity to see it live. You can't really beat it. It's an awesome experience."
If you want to watch the eclipse from the comfort of your air-conditioned home, KPRC Channel 2 News will be streaming it live on Click2Houston.com. We will keep updating the list of eclipse events as the event approaches.
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