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Eclipse Day Cometh

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Image by Dave Davidson from Pixabay

On Monday April 8, a celestial spectacle will grace the skies of Texas and North America—a total solar eclipse. This awe-inspiring event occurs when the moon perfectly aligns with the sun, casting its shadow upon Earth and plunging the path of totality into darkness for a brief period. Texas, positioned squarely in the eclipse's path, offers skywatchers a prime opportunity to witness this unforgettable phenomenon.

But before you step outside and gaze skyward, preparation is key. Here's what Texans need to know to experience the eclipse safely and fully.

Firstly, location is crucial. Not all of Texas will witness totality. A narrow band, stretching from the west to the eastern borders, will experience the complete blackout of the sun. Luckily, resources like NASA's Eclipse Explorer [NASA Eclipse Website] allow you to pinpoint your exact location and determine if you'll be in the path of totality.

Secondly, safety is paramount. Looking directly at the sun, even during a partial eclipse, can cause permanent eye damage. Special eclipse glasses with ISO 12312-2 certification are the only safe way to view the sun directly. These glasses filter out harmful solar radiation, allowing you to witness the sun's corona, its wispy outer atmosphere, visible only during totality.

Thirdly, embrace the experience! The total eclipse will last mere minutes, but the lead-up and aftermath are equally captivating. As the moon begins to obscure the sun, the temperature may drop, and wildlife may become confused. Witnessing the corona, a sight usually hidden by the sun's brilliance, is a breathtaking moment.

Finally, plan for the crowds. The eclipse path will be a major tourist attraction. Book your accommodation and travel well in advance, especially if your location falls within the path of totality.

The April 8 eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Texans. With careful planning and the right safety measures, you can ensure a safe and unforgettable experience as you witness the dance between the sun, moon, and Earth.

Angela Speck is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is a co-chair of the American Astronomical Society Solar Eclipse Taskforce.

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org.

*This interview will be recorded on Thursday, April 4, 2024.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi