These are the best places to watch Saturday's solar eclipse in Central Texas
We need to start using the moon as a calendar again. A good opportunity to start planning around the cosmos is arriving in Central Texas on October 14, with a highly anticipated eclipse.
Some areas of Texas will only get a partial eclipse, but certain cities such as Midland, Odessa, San Antonio, San Angelo, and Corpus Christi are expected to get the best viewing experience, with a 90 percent obscuration of the sun.
According to NASA, the partial eclipse will begin in San Antonio at 10:23 am, and annularity (i.e. the phase of the eclipse where the moon is mostly hidden by the sun) will begin at 11:52 am. Annularity is expected to end at 11:56 am, and the event will turn back into a partial eclipse, which will end at about 1:33 pm.
Local astrophysicist and University of Texas at Austin engineering scientist Torvald Hessel runs a website called The Eclipse Store, which is dedicated to providing the best information regarding eclipses, including multiple interactive maps.
One of the most important reasons Hessel created his project is to ensure eclipse safety, since it is never safe to look directly at the sun, even in the event of an eclipse. After the uptick in fake ISO-certified glasses that arose on the market (particularly on Amazon) during the 2017 eclipse, Hessel set out to provide independently tested, ISO-certified eclipse glasses at low cost to ensure accessibility for all eclipse enthusiasts.
"We want to be able to send these glasses to a mom and pop in the countryside of Texas that don't have the opportunity or don't want to go into the big city and see where they can find [them]," Hessel shares. "So that was the goal – [to] provide safe glasses to the general public that are nice and affordable...because most manufacturers don't do that."
The Eclipse Store is additionally recognized on The American Astronomical Society's "Suppliers of Safe Solar Filters & Viewers" list. Another company on the list, called Halo, sent CultureMap some samples including a stylish wooden pair that frequent sky-gazers can keep for future use. They are much too dark to function as regular sunglasses, but are a cool thing to have on hand for the next event when you inevitably forget to order the cheap ones.
Here are all the best spots in Central Texas to view the annular solar eclipse.
There are 17 Texas state parks and natural areas that are within the path of the eclipse, but the closest ones to Austin are:
- Old Tunnel State Park in Fredericksburg
- Hill Country State Natural Area in Bandera
- Guadalupe River State Park in Big Spring
- Government Canyon State Natural Area in San Antonio
Guadalupe River State Park will host a family-friendly informational event and science project with park rangers from 10 am to 12:30 pm on October 14, and will have ISO-certified solar eclipse glasses for sale at the park headquarters. Make sure to pre-purchase a day pass to the park if you or your family are planning on visiting.
In San Antonio
The Brackenridge Park Conservancy is partnering with the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department for a fundraising eclipse brunch from 10 am to 12:45 pm atop the historic Alpine Drive at Brackenridge Park. Eclipse and Sips will include a catered meal from W.D. Deli, baked goods from San Antonio's favorite local bakeries, a bottle of rosé for two adults or a mini bottle of prosecco for individuals. Eclipse glasses will be provided. Tickets are $40 for individuals, or $75 for two adults, and $10 for children, and can be purchased online.
The historic Alamo in downtown San Antonio is hosting its own eclipse watch party from 10 am to 2 pm, where guests can purchase a commemorative pair of ISO-certified solar eclipse glasses at the Alamo Welcome Center as they are invited to view the solar spectacle from the grounds of the historic landmark. More information is available on the Alamo website.
For a more kid-focused event, you won't want to miss out on The DoSeum's "Moon At Noon" eclipse watch party from 11 am to noon. Eclipse glasses will be provided, and admission will be free for the first 500 guests.
Families can also enjoy watching the eclipse from the rooftop of the Terrace on 5th at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio River Walk from 10:30 am to 1 pm. The hotel's "Sun and Moon Affair" event will include eclipse-themed bites, sunrise mimosas, and more. Eclipse glasses will be provided. Tickets ($25 for children under 13 and $45 for adults) can be purchased on Eventbrite.
In the Hill Country
Pedernales Cellars in Stonewall, Texas has the perfect vantage point for viewing the eclipse, and is hosting its own viewing party from noon to 4 pm on October 14. Eclipse glasses will be provided by the winery, while patio and lawn seating will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis. If you're planning on enjoying a wine tasting during the event, reservations are required and can be made via Tock. All visitors are welcome to stay for live music by Dan Guevara after the watch party.
The Dripping Springs Pumpkin Festivalwill hand out free solar eclipse viewing glasses (while supplies last) during its Saturday festivities from 10:24 am to 1:32 pm. Come for the eclipse, and stay for the sharp shooting, bullwhip cracking, horse-and-pony country fun. Tickets ($15 per person, free for children under three and seniors aged 65 and older) are available online on the festival's website.