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Houston residents can see first of back-to-back solar eclipses this Saturday

There will be many places around the region to watch the annular solar eclipse, which happens when the moon is situated between the sun and Earth and casts a shadow on the planet. Another is expected in April 2024.

Eclipse Glasses
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Proper eye protection is a must for anyone looking up at a solar eclipse. Eclipse glasses are far darker than regular sunglasses.

Houston-area residents will be able to view an annular solar eclipse, for the first time since 2017, at around 11:50 a.m. Saturday.

Matthew Wilkinson, an orbital mechanic at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said it will be the first of a rare back-to-back eclipse viewing opportunity. He said another annular solar eclipse, which happens when the moon is positioned between the sun and Earth and casts a shadow on the planet, is coming in April 2024.

"Usually, you have to go decades to centuries between getting eclipses at the same location,” Wilkinson said. “So it’s kind of a neat thing for us to be able to have two eclipses kind of going right over the same part of our state just a few months apart."

While the full view of the solar eclipse's "ring of fire" will best be seen in the San Antonio area, Houstonians will be able to view at least a partial eclipse anywhere in the region where they can get a good look at the sun.

MORE: Dr. Patricia Reiff of Rice Univ. discusses the eclipse on Houston Matters

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However, Wilkinson said no one should look at the eclipse directly without special eclipse glasses that meet the ISO 12312-2 safety standard.

"Not all eclipse glasses meet the safety standard, so it’s very important to make sure the packaging says it meets it,” Wilkinson said. “These are thousands of times darker than normal sunglasses, so make sure they aren’t scratched or scuffed. If you're ever in doubt, don’t look at the sun.”

The “ring of fire” part of the eclipse, when the moon will cover most of the sun, will last about 10 minutes. The moon will begin moving over the sun at about 10:30 a.m. and will partially block it until nearly 2 p.m.

Wilkinson recommends the public go to an observation center or a local park, such as Hermann Park or Terry Hershey Park, for the best view. Among the eclipse watch parties planned for Saturday are events at Levy Park, the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences, Rice University’s Brockman Hall observatory and Ellington Airport, where eclipse viewing is being incorporated into the Wings Over Houston Airshow.