NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The countdown to the “Great American Eclipse” of 2017 is on as many people prepare for the solar phenomenon.
At roughly 70 miles wide, spanning from coast to coast, it will be the first total eclipse in the U.S. mainland since 1979 and the first to cross from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean in 99 years.
“It’s kind of once in a lifetime thing,” said Eric Williamson, a Fort Worth resident.
Williamson and his family could not wait for the eclipse on Monday. They got a small preview of the solar event inside UT Arlington’s planetarium on Sunday.
“What you’re going to be able to see for a couple of minutes, it’s pretty amazing,” said Williamson.
Astrophysicist Levent Gurdemir believes the DFW area will experience a 75 percent coverage of the sun.
“That was very actually freaky event for our ancestors. Now, knowing what’s going on, it’s spectacular,” said Gurdemir.
He said the best time to watch in North Texas will be from 12:45 to 1:15 p.m. Gurdemir does not think anyone will need a special vantage point since the sun will be at one of its highest points.
“This is one day we stop doing what we are doing every day and pay attention to celestial phenomenon,” said Gurdemir.
If anyone is planning on using sunglasses to watch the eclipse or using something like welding masks, experts say they likely will not do much in terms of protection.
“It is never, never safe to look at the sun,” said Gurdemir.
With special eclipse glasses sold out nearly every where, Gurdemir suggests watching the shadows of trees. The gaps in leaves act as pinhole cameras.
“(I’ll) probably stay indoors,” said Williamson. “I don’t want to go blind. I’ll look at it on television and see what it was.”
Williamson and others will get another shot when DFW is directly in the path of a total eclipse on April 8, 2024.
Experts say pets and other animals can act strangely during an eclipse. But despite rumors, they are not at risk for looking at the sun or being harmed.