Ways you can safely view Monday’s solar eclipse

Lara Eakins with UT's Department of Astronomy stands next to the university's heliostat, which they'll use to monitor the eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (KXAN Photo: Kyle Kovilaritch)
Lara Eakins with UT's Department of Astronomy stands next to the university's heliostat, which they'll use to monitor the eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (KXAN Photo: Kyle Kovilaritch)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Our much anticipated solar eclipse is just around the corner! What makes this one so unique? Its path of totality will cross the entire United States, from coast to coast.

If you’re wanting to check out the show, it may be too late to snag a pair of your own solar eclipse glasses. However, it’s not too late to safely catch a glimpse of the eclipse. There are several ways you and your family can check out the spectacular show here at home, safely.

One way is to join the viewing party over at the University of Texas at Austin campus. Lara Eakins is the program coordinator in the Department of Astronomy at UT. Eakins has been busy getting the school’s powerful heliostat, or solar telescope, ready for the big show.

“We are a department of astronomy and one of our missions is to share that love of astronomy with the general public,” said Eakins. “So when you have a good, unique, event like an eclipse … we do like to give the public an opportunity to see it.”

Eakins told KXAN that she will even offer a pair of solar eclipse glasses on a first-come, first-serve basis, at the viewing event. UT is just one of many places in Austin hosting a viewing party to help folks safely check out this unique sight.

The Austin Public Library Howson Branch is also inviting the general public. Not only to watch the solar eclipse, but to help people make their very own “pinhole projector.”

“It takes two pieces of paper and a pin, that’s all you need in order to see the eclipse safely,” said Kathleen Kanarski, the managing librarian at the Howson Branch Library. “We got the glasses, and we’re showing people how to make the [projector] cameras to keep them safe and still able to enjoy the event.”

“Just hold it up and angle it so that you get the sun to come through the hole, and it will project on to the paper on the back of the box,” Kanarski said.

Make a pinhole projector using two pieces of paper: Simply put a hole in one sheet and align it so the sun shines through it and onto a piece of paper below.

Just a heads up … you may not want to throw these projectors away! We actually have more solar eclipses expected for Central Texas not too long from now. There are actually two on the horizon. Expect another partial solar eclipse, also known as an “annular solar eclipse,” in October 2023, before our big total eclipse in April 2024.

“This is probably going to be one of the most viewed eclipses, especially within just the path of totality, maybe ever, because we’re going to have so many people that are going to have an opportunity to see it” said Eakins. “But if you miss traveling to totality for this one, if you just hang out here in Austin for about six and half years, you’re going to get another shot.”

To find out more on eclipse events around town and how to make your own “pinhole projector,” visit our Eclipse section.

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