STEPHENVILLE (August 7, 2017) — While much of North America scrambles for old exposed camera or X-ray film to see the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, visitors to Tarleton State University’s planetarium can enjoy a direct view without risking damage to their eyes.
The first 100 people to show up between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. for the free Solar Eclipse Party will receive eclipse viewing glasses to watch the moon pass between the earth and sun on the planetarium’s 40-foot domed screen.
The planetarium is located in the Lamar Johanson Science Building on the Stephenville campus.
Planetarium Manager Larry D. Barr cautions onlookers from viewing the eclipse without proper eyewear.
“Even looking directly at the sun for a short duration can burn the retina,” he said. “Severe eye damage, including blindness, can result while viewing an eclipse. Damage can be temporary or permanent.
“The only safe way to directly view an eclipse is through special-purpose solar filters, ‘eclipse glasses’ or handheld solar viewers,” Barr explained. “A welding helmet with a shade 10 filter or higher works well, too.”
Images projected on the planetarium screen will come from Madras, Ore., and Cody, Wyo.—located within the roughly 70-mile-wide path of the total eclipse, when the moon completely blocks the bright face of the sun.
By the time the eclipse reaches Stephenville, around 11:38 a.m., only some 70 percent of the sun’s rays will be blocked, making it extremely important that observers use a special-purpose, safe solar filter for viewing.
The eclipse ends at 2:36 p.m. in the Erath County area and peaks at 1:07.
“Temperatures will drop somewhat during the eclipse,” Barr said, “and outdoor and security lighting systems, typically activated by sensors, will be fooled for several minutes or even a few hours on Aug. 21.”
The next total solar eclipse for Texas and parts of Mexico will occur in 2024.
For upcoming events, follow Tarleton’s planetarium on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TSUPlanetarium/.