5 things to know about Monday’s solar eclipse – Tampa Bay Times

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Excitement is building as North America prepares for a total solar eclipse that will cross the continent on Monday afternoon, offering millions a rare opportunity to see the skies temporarily darken as the moon blocks the face of the sun.

Even though Florida isn’t in the sweet spot of totality that will start in Mexico and cross 15 states in the Midwest and Northeast, the Tampa Bay area will get a partial solar eclipse, with the moon appearing to take a bite out of the sun and obscuring more than 60% of its light.

There are viewing parties to watch the phenomenon safely. Here are more things to know as this rare occurrence kicks off our week.

Kendyl Brown, 8  looks through a specialized telescope during a solar eclipse watch party at the at the Museum of Science and Industry on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023 in Tampa.
Kendyl Brown, 8 looks through a specialized telescope during a solar eclipse watch party at the at the Museum of Science and Industry on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023 in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times (2023) ]

When will it happen?

The timing, including how long totality lasts, depends on the location, but some spots on Monday will see the moon fully cover the sun for up to 4 minutes and 27 seconds.

For the Tampa Bay area, things will start changing at 1:43 p.m., when it will look like the moon is first touching the sun’s disc, said St. Petersburg College professor Craig Joseph, who heads SPC’s planetarium. It will peak at 3 p.m.

“Over the next 77 minutes, more and more of the sun will be covered by the moon, with mid-eclipse occurring just before 3 p.m.,” Joseph said, adding that the last of it will end at 4:14 p.m.

Tampa Bay eclipse viewing events

“Here in St. Petersburg, we will see a partial eclipse, with 65% of the sun covered by the moon at eclipse maximum,” said Joseph. “Because only a portion of the sun will be covered, this unique event can be viewed only if special precautions are taken to reduce the sun’s brilliance to safe levels.”

Here are some of the viewing events that will have safe viewers on hand:

  • St. Petersburg College will have eclipse glasses and telescopes with solar filters set up between 1:30 and 4 p.m. in the quad area of the St. Petersburg/Gibbs campus, near the southwest entrance of the West St. Petersburg Library at 6700 Eighth Ave. N.
  • The Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival will have a special viewing party on Clearwater Beach. Beachgoers can pick up free eclipse glasses at the Visit St. Pete/Clearwater booth at the festival starting at noon.
Staff at the Museum of Science and Industry setup specialized telescopes for a solar eclipse watch party on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023 in Tampa.
Staff at the Museum of Science and Industry setup specialized telescopes for a solar eclipse watch party on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023 in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
  • Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry will host a celebration in its outdoor Science Park on Monday from 1:30-4 p.m. that is included with MOSI admission. They will supply sun-safe solar telescopes with guidance from MOSI astronomers at 4801 E. Fowler Ave. Guests can view the eclipse with glasses that can be purchased for $5.
  • Safety Harbor Public Library will have a viewing party at Safety Harbor Waterfront Park from 1:30-4 p.m. with free eclipse glasses available. 105 Veterans Memorial Lane, Safety Harbor.
  • Hillsborough County Public libraries will be streaming the eclipse at multiple libraries via NASA TV from 1-3:15 p.m. including at the John F. Germany Public Library, SouthShore Regional Library and Egypt Lake Partnership Library. In addition, the Burton Memorial Library is having a viewing party on its lawn and will be giving out glasses starting at 1 p.m. 302 McLendon St., Plant City.
  • Seminole Community Library will have one pair of eclipse glasses per person while supplies last at the St. Petersburg College Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St. N. Bring chairs and blankets to watch the eclipse behind the library.
  • Great Explorations Children’s Museum is hosting a Solar Eclipse Day in which they will explore outer space from inside the planetarium. They will first witness the eclipse in person across the street at Crescent Lake Park starting at 2:45 p.m., and it is free to join them. Guests are encouraged to bring eye protection. They will return to the planetarium for a show. Admission is $12, $15 for age 1-17. 1925 Fourth St. N., St. Petersburg.
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Don’t use your phone

If you don’t have any safe solar viewers, don’t think you can just hold your phone up to view the eclipse. You could melt the insides of your camera while pointing it at the solar eclipse, phone companies are warning.

There are filters you can purchase, though the sun may be too bright for the camera to correctly capture at the beginning and you may get a lousy shot.

A better plan is to get some safe glasses or viewers that are approved by the American Astronomical Society and experience it with your own eyes instead. Pro tip: Warby Parker stores (the Tampa Bay area has three) are giving out free solar eclipse glasses while supplies last.

A pair of solar eclipse glasses. Viewers should be approved by the American Astronomical Society.
A pair of solar eclipse glasses. Viewers should be approved by the American Astronomical Society. [ DARLEENE POWELLS | The Morning Call ]

Get some eclipse food, swag

Many restaurants and companies are offering eclipse deals and specialty flavors.

  • Krispy Kreme has a Total Solar Eclipse doughnut available through Monday. It’s dipped in black chocolate icing, adorned with silver sprinkles, piped with a buttercream made with Oreo pieces and features a whole Oreo cookie in the center.
Krispy Kreme has a Total Solar Eclipse doughnut available Friday, April 5 through Monday, April 8.
Krispy Kreme has a Total Solar Eclipse doughnut available Friday, April 5 through Monday, April 8. [ Krispy Kreme ]
  • Sun Chips are taking “limited edition” to a new level with eclipse-themed potato chips that will only be available for 4 minutes and 27 seconds, when the sun is completely blocked in the sky. Starting at 2:33 p.m. on Monday, as the eclipse begins in the U.S., you can go to SunChipsSolarEclipse.com and get a free bag, while supplies last.
  • Burger King is offering a buy one-get one deal if you are a member of the Burger King’s Royal Perks loyalty program. You can text ECLIPSE to 251251 on Monday to get a special BOGO Whopper deal, redeemable April 8-15 in the BK app or on BK.com.
Sun Chips will only make its eclipse-themed potato chips available for 4 minutes and 27 seconds. A free bag of Pineapple Habanero and Black Bean Spicy Gouda chips will be up for grabs starting at 2:33 p.m. on Monday at SunChipsSolarEclipse.com.
Sun Chips will only make its eclipse-themed potato chips available for 4 minutes and 27 seconds. A free bag of Pineapple Habanero and Black Bean Spicy Gouda chips will be up for grabs starting at 2:33 p.m. on Monday at SunChipsSolarEclipse.com. [ Frito-Lay ]
  • Jeni’s Ice Cream, which has a shop in Tampa’s Sparkman Wharf, has four out-of-this-world flavors including the tropical-flavored Cosmic Bloom, the unnaturally pink Nebula Berry, the grape and currant Purple Star Born and Supermoon, a previously available flavor described as “almost like cereal milk!” The shop is also giving away eclipse glasses with purchase while supplies last.
  • Pizza Hut’s Total Eclipse of the Hut deal — aside from winning the contest for best deal name — is offering a large pizza for $12 on Monday. You can either create your own pie with up to 10 toppings or pick from any of the pies on the menu. The offer is good for carryout, dine-in and delivery.
  • Cracker Barrel is offering a free side of pancakes with the purchase of any entrée, including kids’ meals. Just ask for eclipse pancakes. Dine in only, one side per order, buttermilk pancakes only.
  • Chili’s is offering a free appetizer on Sunday and Monday with an adult entrée if you use the code APPCLIPSE when ordering to-go or in-store to redeem the freebie.
  • Sonic has created the Blackout Slush Float. Customers who buy the float will get a free pair of eclipse viewing glasses. The jet-black, “sweet, cotton candy and dragon fruit flavored” drink topped with creamy white soft serve and blue and purple galaxy-themed sprinkles is available through May 5.

Watch the weather

The Midwest has been rocked by nasty weather this week, and the Tampa Bay area has had its own share of thunderstorms and wind in recent days. On Monday, forecasters say, the Tampa Bay area will be mostly sunny, with a high near 87.

Weather watchers are keeping an eye on a storm system as it tracks through the central U.S. From Missouri and Kansas southward into central and east Texas, it is likely to be cloudy and rainy, according to the Weather Prediction Center, a branch of the National Weather Service.

But even with cloudy skies, those in the path of totality will see a change, according to NASA. For the few minutes during totality when the moon passes in front of the sun, it will be like a switch flipped from day to night. Everything will go dark, temperatures will dip and any light breeze may turn calm, no matter the skies.

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