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What you need to know to catch the solar eclipse

You may have heard there’s an event happening in the sky on Monday, Aug. 21.

It’s the first solar eclipse in 38 years. It’s a pretty big deal.

Here’s our guide to how and where to catch the big show, with some pro tips from Dr. Jorge Perez-Gallego, the curator of astronomy at the Frost Museum of Science.

What is a solar eclipse anyway?

Solar eclipses happen when the new moon (aka a slender crescent shape) comes between the sun and earth and casts the darkest part of its shadow, the umbra, on earth. And this one is traveling from coast to coast in the U.S. for the first time in 99 years.

South Florida isn’t in the eclipse’s “path of totality,” which means we won’t see the sun blocked by the moon 100 percent. But we’ll still be able to see an impressive 80 percent of the moon’s shadow, so get hype.

When you’ve got your protective eclipse glasses on, it will look like the moon is moving in front of the sun.

What causes it?

It’s caused by the sun and the moon looking like they’re almost the same size in the sky because of they’re a specific distance apart from each other. They happen when the moon is about 238,900 miles away and the sun is about 92.96 million miles away, and they each have particular radiuses.

The next one won’t happen until 2024.

How to watch it

“It is NEVER safe to look at the Sun, whether partially eclipsed or not,” says Dr. Perez-Gallego said.

So you gotta go shopping. He recommends glasses specifically for watching the eclipse, or welding goggles, grade 15 or higher.

Here’s his how to for how to look at the sun and still keep your eyes protected.

Curious about how to watch the #solareclipse safely on Monday? Watch as Dr. Jorge Perez-Gallego, Frost Science Curator of Astronomy and Exhibition Developer, demonstrates the proper way to enjoy the solar eclipse without damaging your eyes. Be sure to tag your friends and family to share these important tips! •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Are you visiting the museum on Monday to enjoy the eclipse? Remember, complimentary solar glasses will be given out on a first come, first served basis, while supplies last, starting at 9 a.m. Ticket holders must be present to claim glasses. Learn more at frostscience.org/solareclipse.

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If you want to order your own, you can Amazon Prime a pair or go to a Best Buy, Walmart or Lowe’s. Prices are rising fast. Glasses used to be just $1 dollar, now they’re creeping up to $7 or $8.

There are also a bunch of counterfeit versions popping up online. You should check NASA or the American Astronomical Society’s list of approved glasses to make sure yours are on the list and not already sold out here.

You can make your own too

Some of the best places to watch it

Because the solar eclipse is going to be visible from exactly 1:26 p.m. to 4:20 p.m., there’s plenty of time to get a peek. Here are some of the best local spots:

  • The Frost Museum of Science: The museum’s science plaza will be open for that whole period of time. There will be telescopes, free eclipse glasses with the price of regular admission (but if they run out the shop sells them for $4.99), and a live-stream of NASA’s Megacast on TVs throughout the museum, showing people studying the eclipse as it happens.
  • Deering Estate: This huge preserve of more than 450 acres is a great spot to watch the eclipse because it’s a big open space – nothing to block your view. Pop in between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The Southern Cross Astronomical Society will have telescopes, free to use with the price of admission.
  • Broward County Southwest Regional Library: If you’re over on the north side of town, this might be your best bet. They’ll be showing the NASA live stream from 1 to 5 p.m. and offering free eclipse glasses.