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What is an annular solar eclipse and how to watch in Dallas safely?

As Saturday's upcoming annular solar eclipse approaches, several US cities are eagerly anticipating a surge of visitors. But what exactly is an annular total eclipse?

What is an annular solar eclipse and how to watch in Dallas safely?

Unlike a total solar eclipse, during an annular solar eclipse, the moon does not entirely obscure the sun. This phenomenon occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth while it is at its farthest point from our planet. NASA explains, "Because the moon is farther away from Earth, it appears smaller than the sun and does not completely cover the star, creating a 'ring of fire' effect in the sky." Where can you witness this "ring of fire"? Those situated within the "path of annularity," spanning from Oregon to Texas, will have a front-row seat to this celestial spectacle. The event is set to commence at 9:13 am PT along the Oregon coast and conclude just before noon CT in Texas. However, the "ring of fire" will not be visible to those outside this path; nevertheless, a partial solar eclipse will be observable across the entire continental US. Oregon, which enjoyed prime viewing of the 2017 total solar eclipse, is preparing for an influx of astronomy enthusiasts. The eclipse will initially be visible along the state's coastline, and camping facilities in its numerous state parks, such as Dexter State Recreation Site and Shore Acres State Park, are anticipated to fill up, as reported by the Parks and Recreation Department. Albuquerque, New Mexico, is also located along the path for an unobstructed view of the "ring of fire." The city offers public viewing opportunities at the Open Space Visitor Center and the University of New Mexico, hosted by the Physics and Astronomy Department. San Antonio, the largest US city in the eclipse's path, has established various viewing locations throughout the city and is distributing special safety glasses to residents and passersby at public libraries. The city of San Antonio states in a press release, "The partial eclipse will commence at 10:23 am and reach its maximum coverage at 11:54 am." Partial views of the eclipse will be possible in select areas of Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Alaska, although the "ring of fire" effect won't be visible there, according to NASA officials. Further south, in Mexico and other Central and South American countries, there are also opportunities to witness the "ring of fire." To safely view the eclipse, NASA advises against using regular sunglasses, as they do not provide adequate eye protection. Instead, special protective eyewear is recommended. Several locations are hosting events to facilitate safe eclipse viewing:

  • FREE Bath House Cultural Center: The center on White Rock Lake will offer an activity to create eclipse viewing glasses from 10 a.m. to noon. Admission is free.

  • Fort Worth Museum of Science and History: Visitors can purchase eclipse glasses, make a pinhole viewer, and enjoy various science activities from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Admission: $12-$16)

  • FREE Klyde Warren Park: The Perot Museum TECH Truck will provide free eclipse glasses and hands-on STEM activities from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is free.

  • Perot Museum of Nature and Science: Tickets include eclipse glasses, museum admission, hands-on STEM activities, live music, and food trucks from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Ticket prices: $15-$25)

  • Texas Discovery Gardens: Attendees can create a pinhole camera or purchase special glasses on-site to view the eclipse from Fair Park. This event will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Participants must possess State Fair tickets ($18-$25) in addition to garden admission ($6-$12).


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