A Houstonian's Viewing Guide to the Solar Eclipse

Houston won't have a total eclipse of the heart on August 21, but you'll still get a heavenly show.

By Katharine Shilcutt August 2, 2017

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Houston will see 66 percent of the sun obscured by the moon during the upcoming solar eclipse.

Image: Shutterstock

At our sister magazine in Seattle, the impending solar eclipse on August 21 is such a huge deal they devoted an entire cover to the heavenly event. But that's because Seattle is one of the lucky U.S. cities to be within the "totality" of the eclipse's path, which means they'll see—yes—a total eclipse of the sun as the moon crosses between us and it. Nearly a century has passed since the last time the U.S. witnessed such an eclipse.

In Houston, the eclipse may be a little less spectacular than in Seattle (or Casper, Wyoming or Columbia, Missouri), but that doesn't mean you should miss it. You gonna spend another 99 years waiting for one that's a little closer to total?

As such, the city isn't exactly brimming with eclipse-watch parties. There are a few, however: Levy Park, the Children's Museum of Houston, the Houston Museum of Natural Science campus in Sugar Land, and the Freeman Library in Clear Lake are all hosting events of their own.

Can't make it to any of those? Plan your own event with this NASA guide to hosting your own viewing party at home. Can't take the afternoon off? Take lunch outside with some coworkers to watch this once-in-a-century cosmic event.

Vox also has a handy interactive map that lets you type in your ZIP code and spits out exactly when the eclipse will begin and end, when it will be at its peak, and what percentage of the sun will be covered by the moon. In downtown, for instance, the eclipse will begin at 11:47 a.m. and peak at 1:16:55 p.m. (down to that second!), when the moon will obscure 66.6 percent of the sun. In Katy, the eclipse will peak one minute sooner, at 1:15:37 p.m., and in The Woodlands, the eclipse will peak at 1:18:58 p.m.

To properly view the eclipse without doing permanent damage to your retinas, you'll need to purchase a specialized pair of extra-dark sunglasses. Regular sunglasses absolutely will not cut it; eclipse-viewing glasses need to have ISO 12312-2 certification, among other qualifications. And beware of frauds if you're ordering from online retailers like Amazon—Quartz has a terrific breakdown of how to buy the right pair without getting ripped off.

And since taking a photo of the eclipse with your phone isn't recommended for similar lens-searing reasons, try to snap something equally eerie for your Instagram feed: the crescent shadows cast by the moon-covered sun.

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