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'Ring of Fire' eclipse: What to expect and best spots across Texas to see it

Published Tuesday, October 10, 2023 12:00am

Make sure you have eye protection, then know where and when to look!

Author: KHOU 11 Staff

Published: 1:39 PM CDT October 3, 2023

Updated: 9:24 AM CDT October 9, 2023

HOUSTON — A "Ring of Fire" annular solar eclipse will be visible across the United States and other parts of the world this month.  

An annular eclipse is when the moon passes between the Earth and sun and is at or near its farthest point of orbit from Earth.

It'll happen on October 14 and Texas is included in the path. The 100 percent coverage path across Texas includes Midland-Odessa, San Antonio and Corpus Christi.

So what can we expect in Houston, or anywhere else in the U.S. on October 14? The Houston area should get between 80 and 85 percent viewing coverage. 

NASA has an interactive map -- their Eclipse Explorer -- that can show you what to expect in different parts of the country. Below is an example for Houston.  

You can access the NASA Eclipse Explorer here.

Credit: NASA

What is a 'Ring of Fire' annular solar eclipse?

During a "Ring of Fire" annular eclipse, the moon is at its orbit farthest from Earth. Because it’s farther than it is during a total solar eclipse, it doesn’t cover the entire sun, leaving what appears to be a ring of the sun visible for those who are in the path. That's where the "Ring of Fire" eclipse got its name.

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Best spots to watch the 'Ring of Fire' annular eclipse

If you're up for a road trip, lists New Braunfels as one of the Top 7 spots to see it in the southwestern United States. The website specifically mentions a cluster of superstores at I-35 and Highway 46.

Here are other locations across Texas and times in the path of the eclipse

  • Midland: 10:18 a.m. through 1:21 p.m., with max eclipse beginning at 11:43 a.m.
  • San Angelo: 10:20 a.m. through 1:25 p.m., with max eclipse beginning at 11:47 a.m.
  • Kerrville:  10:22 a.m. through 1:30 p.m., with max eclipse beginning at 11:50 a.m.
  • San Antonio:  10:23 a.m. through 1:32 p.m., with max eclipse beginning at 11:52 a.m.
  • Corpus Christi:  10:26 a.m. through 1:38 p.m., with max eclipse beginning at 11:55 a.m.

If you don't want to go outside to see it, NASA is streaming the annular eclipse. Here's where you can access their live stream, which begins at 10:30 a.m. Central Time on October 14 and goes through 12:15 p.m. Central Time.

In the Houston area, there are plenty of options to see it, including the following:

The Children's Museum eclipse viewing party in Houston

The viewing party begins at 10 a.m. and goes through 2 p.m. You can grab a pair of special glasses to catch the eclipse or you can watch a live stream indoors. Plus, kids -- and adults -- can get an educational experience about eclipses. More information here.

George Observatory in Needville

You can see the "Ring of Fire" from the George Observatory in Needville. The viewing starts at 10 a.m. and lasts until 2 p.m. Parking is $10 and entry is $7. Anyone under 12 years old is free. More information here.

Delores Fenwick Nature Center in Pearland

The viewing will go from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. There will be a variety of free activities, crafts and games. Eclipse viewing glasses will be available while they last.  More information here.

How to protect your eyes during an eclipse

It's not safe to look directly at an eclipse. If you do, you could cause instant damage to your eyes. That goes for cameras, telescopes or binoculars without special-purpose solar filters, too. Regular sunglasses are not protection either. You need to use special social viewing glasses or a safe handheld viewer. And make sure the lense is not damaged or scratched.

If you don't have special eclipse glasses, you can use an indirect viewing method, like a pinhole projector which has a small opening that can project an image of the sun onto a surface.  Here's guidance from NASA on safe solar eclipse viewing.

When is the next eclipse?

A total solar eclipse will happen on April 8, 2024, and will also travel over several states, including Texas. In fact, the path of April's eclipse crosses the path of this year's October eclipse in Texas.