With North Texas expected to witness a partial eclipse Oct. 14, universities, museums and libraries are gearing up for the event with giveaways of solar-viewing glasses and educational activities for children.
The annular solar eclipse, also known as the “ring of fire” eclipse, occurs when the moon is near its farthest point from Earth, according to NASA. Because the moon appears smaller, it doesn’t block the entire sun during its orbit. Viewers can see the orange edges of the sun even when the eclipse hits its peak, resulting in the fiery visual effect.
Dallas-Fort Worth isn’t in the path of annularity, the narrow area between Oregon and Texas where the maximum phase of the eclipse will be visible in the U.S., according to the University of Texas at Arlington. Midland, San Antonio and Corpus Christi are among the Texas cities in its path, allowing visitors to see the full “ring of fire” eclipse.
Still, Tarrant County residents can prepare to see a partial solar eclipse in the late morning and early afternoon of Oct. 14. The eclipse will begin at 10:23 a.m. and wrap up just after 1:30 p.m., according to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
The peak eclipse — about 87% coverage of the sun — is expected to be visible at 11:52 a.m. in the Fort Worth area, per the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. In the Arlington area, the peak will hit at about 11:54 a.m., UT-Arlington Planetarium Director Levent Gurdemir said in a news release.
As families plan for the festivities that come with a solar eclipse, experts are also urging Texans to take precautions. Anyone looking at the eclipse should use safe, high-quality solar viewing glasses to prevent eye damage, Gurdemir said. Sunglasses or tinted windows won’t do the trick.
Telescopes, binoculars and camera lenses should never be used to look at the sun or an eclipse, he said. These tips are crucial as Americans prepare for a rare total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, with the next total eclipse in 2044.
“Looking at the sun directly, even during the maximum eclipse, is extremely dangerous and may result in permanent eye damage,” Gurdemir said. “Permanent eye damage will be immediate and irreversible. The eye retina doesn’t have pain receptors, and therefore one wouldn’t feel it when the extreme light from the sun is burning the retina.”
Pairs of solar-viewing glasses will be available at the following Tarrant County events while supplies last.
Eclipse countdown with Fort Worth Public Library
The Fort Worth Public Library has already kicked off its week of eclipse countdown activities with events at its Ella Mae Shamblee and Meadowbrook branches. Families can still join library staff for educational sessions about the eclipse and space-related crafts at a dozen events throughout the week, including several on Oct. 14. Free glasses will be handed out — one pair per person — while supplies last.
- 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12 at Fort Worth Public Library – Diamond Hill / Jarvis
- 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12 at Fort Worth Public Library – Riverside
- 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12 at Fort Worth Public Library – Ridglea
- 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12 at La Gran Biblioteca
- 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12 at Reby Cary Youth Library
- 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 at Fort Worth Public Library – Northside
- 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 at Fort Worth Public Library – Southwest Regional
- 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 at Fort Worth Public Library – Golden Triangle
- 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 at La Gran Biblioteca
- 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 at Fort Worth Public Library – Northwest
- 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 at Fort Worth Public Library – Lincoln Library
- 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 at Fort Worth Public Library – Summerglen
Free field day with Texas A&M at Fort Worth Cabela’s
Texas A&M researchers will host their inaugural parking lot field day at the Cabela’s store in far north Fort Worth from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 14. The first 500 participants will receive free solar viewing glasses before the eclipse viewing begins at noon.
In addition to the eclipse watch party, families can expect to see hands-on demonstrations of several agricultural practices, including feral hog trapping, herbicide spray demonstration and Texas big game identification. Activities will be available indoors and outdoors, with food trucks serving up grub in the parking lot.
Explore astronomy with Fort Worth Museum of Science and History
Eclipse activities and space science will be on the agenda at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History Oct. 14 beginning at 9 a.m. Glasses will be available for purchase, as will tickets for admission. Prices are $16 for people over the age of 12, $14 for seniors over 65, $12 for children between 3 and 11, and free for children under the age of 3.
The price of admission includes access to the museum’s Noble Planetarium shows, including “Totality Over Texas,” a 25-minute presentation that explores the significance and science of the two solar eclipses that the state will experience over the next six months.
‘Sun Block Party’ at UT-Arlington Planetarium
The UT-Arlington Planetarium will host a Sun Block Party to celebrate the eclipse Oct. 14, with all outdoor events free and open to the public. Eclipse glasses are available at the planetarium’s gift shop, online and in person, for $3.50.
The planetarium’s shows, which include “The Sun, Our Living Star” and “Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon,” will also run between 1 and 8 p.m. General admission to the planetarium is $8, while seniors and children under 2 years old get in for $6.
Prior to the eclipse, Arlington’s East Library and Recreation Center will host a Star Party at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13 with star-themed crafts and professional telescopes. Free solar viewing glasses will be available in limited supplies, along with tips for safely viewing the event.
Solar-equipped telescopes, demos at University of North Texas
For residents living on the cusp of Tarrant and Denton counties, the University of North Texas will also host two eclipse watch parties between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Oct. 14. Free pairs of certified solar glasses will be available at both events.
One event will be at the Rafes Urban Astronomy Center, featuring physicists from UNT’s astronomy education program, telescopes equipped to safely view the eclipse and educational activities. The other will be on Curry Hall Lawn with UNT’s Society of Physics Students, who will offer demos, telescopes and educational activities.
Haley Samsel is the environmental reporter for the Fort Worth Report. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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