Get ready for Monday's eclipse

HOUSTON - I hate to hear the old, tired phrase, "Houston, we have a problem" ... but, we may. Local retailers have largely sold out of the special eclipse sunglasses! I tried to find a pair and failed myself. To safely stare directly into the sun for a prolonged period (more than 2 seconds), this Monday, 8/21 when a partial solar eclipse becomes visible from Houston, you'll need to sport a pair. (As long as clouds don't block the view, you'll start to see the sun covered by the moon around 11:50am, reaching max coverage of 67% by 1:16:53pm, and finally ending around 2:45pm.) To go where the eclipse will be a sky-darkening, star-revealing, "total solar eclipse", the closest state is Missouri, 11 hours up the road.

If you attempt to look at the sun for more than a few seconds, severe eye damage may occur and you may not even know it until it's too late. Normal sunglasses in no way even approach the level of protection needed. The only safe way to directly view it is with a pair of ISO-approved solar eclipse glasses, or a welder's helmet or goggles with a rating of 14.

If you don't have glasses and can't find any, you'll still be able to (safely) view strange, "eclipse shadows" -- which resemble the shape of the eclipsed sun -- replacing the dappled sunshine of any shade tree. You'll know you're seeing a projection of the sun when each shadow short of, "matches", like in this photo from a partial solar eclipse in Flagstaff, Arizona back in 2012.

To replicate the effect from trees, you can punch a small hole in a piece of cardboard and hold it above a smooth surface. Or, you can get even more creative and make a projection "room", with a simple breakfast cereal box. You'll see the sun go from a circle, when it's still full, to a crescent as it is eclipsed by the moon!

If you choose to stay inside for the event, KHOU 11 and parent company TEGNA will provide complete coverage on TV and online view our extensive network of television stations located within the region of totality, from roughly the Pacific Northwest, all the way to South Carolina.

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