Things you can do if you can’t see the eclipse in person

By: Sean K. Thompson
| Published 04/08/2024

Photo courtesy of NASA

THE WOODLANDS, TX – Today is the great day of the total solar eclipse that will trace a path over much of Texas. To say that this is being treated as the event of the year so far is not hyperbole; millions are traveling the roads to get in prime viewing position, some schools are closed, many are reading omens and portents into the event, survivalists are stocking up, users are worried about their electronics, and the weather isn’t deciding to play too nicely. On the other hand, many of us are merely marveling at how the natural sizes, distances, and trajectories can make our moon appear to be the exact same size as the sun sometimes.

Here in The Woodlands, the eclipse will be at 95.5 percent totality, as close to total as you can get. Unfortunately, we’re also under near-total cloud coverage, and significant storms are projected to hit right around the time the moon blots out the sun. Woodlands Online wants to be sure to stress that, clouds or no, don’t attempt to view the eclipse with the naked eye, through a lens or your phone camera, through normal sunglasses, or without the protection of specially designed and approved eyewear; you never know when a break in the clouds might happen and decide to burn out your retinas.

In case the clouds and rains completely blot out the event enjoyment, or if you’re merely stuck indoors like certain news teams, here are some alternate things you can do to live vicariously by being eclipse-adjacent:

1. Watch Ladyhawke – This 1985 fantasy film starring Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, and Michelle Pfeiffer (and directed by Richard Donner) tells the tragic tale of two lovers separated by a curse – she’s a hawk by day and he’s a wolf by night – and how an eclipse just might be the answer for their prayers.

2. Read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – Written in 1889 by Mark Twain, a time-traveling American finds himself in early medieval Britain. Fortunately, he has an almanac on him, which might save him from being accused of being a witch if he can accurately predict an eclipse.

3. Listen to Total Eclipse of the Heart – Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler took this Jim Steinman-written song and made it a chart-busting favorite on the 1983 airwaves. The song comes in three different lengths, so enjoy all versions. And for added fun, search YouTube for “Total Eclipse Literal Version.”

4. Catch Little Shop of Horrors on the stage – “A total eclipse of the sun” brings a mean green monster from outer space to New York’s Skid Row in this long-running theatrical dramedy – also made into a popular movie starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, and Steve Martin – known as Audrey II, a man-eating plant. For those of you who have only seen the movie version, know that they changed the ending from the stage play’s much darker theme.

5. Play the word ‘syzygy’ in a Scrabble game – Believe it or not, there’s a phrase for the alignment of astronomical bodies to form an eclipse. Merriam-Webster defines the word as ‘the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (such as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system.’ Drive your opponents crazy with your celestial knowledge.

Let us hear your eclipse alternatives in the comments!

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