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Central Texas readies for Aug. 21 solar eclipse

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Solar Eclipse

Astronomer Warren Hart gives an illustration of the the Aug. 21 solar eclipse Thursday at Central Texas College’s Mayborn Science Theater in Killeen.

Eric J. Shelton | Herald

Starting at 11:40 a.m. Aug. 21 locally, the moon will cross in front of the sun in a solar eclipse that will be visible from Oregon to South Carolina in varying coverages.

Texas will experience a coverage of 68 percent and should be visible with good weather in the Killeen area. The process takes about two hours with the peak at about 1 p.m.

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Aug. 21, 2017, eclipse map

This map provided by greatamericaneclipse.com shows the path of the solar eclipse in North America on Aug. 21.

The last eclipse was a partial and occurred on Christmas day 2000, however, the coverage was only about 20 percent to 60 percent.

This is the nation’s first total solar eclipse since 1979 and the first to cross from the West Coast to the East Coast since 1918, according to an article on CNN’s “Eclipse of the Century.”

“A total eclipse is such a rare occurrence, for many in the U.S., this will be the first time in their life they can see one,” said CNN Senior Meteorologist Brandon Miller. “The path of this eclipse makes it a once-in-a-lifetime event in that it transects the country almost down the middle — meaning it is a one-day drive for a vast majority of the nation.”

Camp sites in Oregon have been winning at an auction for $500 a night, compared to the normal $28 a night, and some premium spots with unobstructed views are going for $2,000.

There are a few parties being held around the Central Texas area, but for much less money.

The Mayborn Science Theater at Central Texas College will have a showing of its new show, “Totality,” about the wonders of eclipses, especially total solar eclipses at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 21. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. The program examines what eclipses are, and how and when they occur.

Following the show, local astronomers, Jay Huston and Warren Hart, will expand upon the show with an in-depth look at eclipses, their effects and a question-and-answer session.

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Solar Eclipse

Astronomers Warren Hart, left, and Jay Huston discuss the Aug. 21 solar eclipse Thursday at Central Texas College’s Mayborn Science Theater in Killeen. The Mayborn Science Theater will host a special viewing of the total solar eclipse on August 21.

At 1 p.m., guests are then invited to view the partial eclipse from several vantage points on campus including outside the main doors of the Mayborn Science Theater, the campus mall area or the second floor balcony.

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Solar Eclipse

Astronomer Jay Huston shows an area where viewing of the solar eclipse will take place at Central Texas College’s Mayborn Science Theater in Killeen. The Mayborn Science Theater will host a special viewing of the total solar eclipse Aug. 21.

Viewing the full total eclipse is offered inside the dome theater from a NASA feed.

COST OF TICKETS

Tickets, which include the cost of eclipse-viewing glasses, are $12 for adults, $10 for children age 12 and under and $7 for planetarium members. Those who do not wish to see the show but witness the eclipse can purchase the viewing glasses for $3.

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Solar Eclipse

Glasses for the viewing the Aug. 21 solar eclipse sit on a table Thursday at Central Texas College’s Mayborn Science Theater in Killeen. 

“We will also have telescopes set up with filters so people can look at it,” said Huston.

As for what we can expect in our area: “It will be somewhat darker but the sun will still be visible,” Hart said. “But, you cannot look at it with the naked eye or with sunglasses on. If you use binoculars or a telescope, you must have a special filter, or the sun can burn your eyes and cause blindness.”

Huston said the sun is different during a solar eclipse than it is normally. “It is way too bright to look at,” he said.

The library in Harker Heights is also hosting an eclipse party on the back patio and will provide free glasses for the first 200 people. You can bring a chair and a lunch or purchase food from May the Cheese Be With You, a food truck, starting at noon.

Hart said a total eclipse is “The rarest astronomical event, in any location, that you will ever experience in your life.”

The Central Texas area will expect to see a full eclipse on April 8, 2024. Hart and Huston said now is the time to plan for the large economic boom for the Killeen area. Many astrologers will be making reservations for local hotels probably starting in the next couple of years.

A Fort Hood official said the post’s solar panel field, which powers a portion of the post, will not be affected by the eclipse.

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