AUSTIN - Space is so far out, and sometimes understanding the physics of it all seems equally unreachable.
Which brings us to the total solar eclipse of 2017, taking place across the U.S. on August 21. While it has been reported that the path of totality -- which means the stretch of land from where the sun can be seen totally eclipsed by the moon -- won't include Texas, does that mean Texans won't get the chance to see the eclipse this year?
Lara Eakins, program coordinator for the Department of Astronomy at The University of Texas, said we will.
"We're going to get a partial eclipse, so it won't be completely dark this time around," she said. "Roughly 70 percent of the sun will be eclipsed by the moon."
Though Texas may not be in the path of totality where the total solar eclipse can be viewed, which stretches from Oregon to South Carolina, NASA says Texas and everyone else in North America will still be able to experience at least a partial eclipse.
Eakins said that in Austin, the partial eclipse will begin around 11:41 a.m. and will end at 2:39 p.m. She said the peak of the event will take place around 1:10 p.m. And as long as there is nothing obstructing your field of view, she said the eclipse can be viewed from just about anywhere in the Austin area.
Experts stress that if you do plan to view the eclipse, it's extremely important you take the necessary safety precautions to protect your eyes. Eakins said there are multiple options, including reputable eclipse viewing glasses, a homemade pinhole camera, or binoculars and telescopes with special protective filters. NASA provides additional safety tips and precautionary viewing options here.
Eakins added that the Department of Astronomy at UT will be hosting an eclipse viewing gathering this year on campus at the heliostat on the lower observing deck of Robert Lee Moore Hall. She said it will be open to the public and there will be multiple ways to view the eclipse.
Feeling impartial to this year's partial eclipse? The next total solar eclipse will be taking place on April 8, 2024, and this time Austin will be in the path of totality.
"I'm already looking forward to it," Eakins said. "Austin is on the southern limit of totality, but we will still be in the right range."
The central path line and ideal viewing area will run through Texas cities like Kerrville, Lampasas, Hillsboro and Sulphur Springs.
Eakins said that while a solar eclipse for a specific location may be rare, one or two typically occur every year somewhere in the world.
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