The total solar eclipse will be Central Texas’ first on record in more than 500 years

KILLEEN, TX — Central Texas College will celebrate the total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8 with an “Eclipse Over Central Texas” weekend of celestial events and programs.

CTC’s prime location in the heart of the total eclipse is expected to draw visitors from across the nation. Killeen is likely to swell to more than 320,000 people including residents.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime event for Central Texas, with expectations of doubling our population for the weekend,” said Kathryn Winston, director of program and outreach for CTC’s Mayborn Science Theater. “We are excited to welcome visitors to our prime viewing location.”

The CTC campus will enjoy one of the longest durations of total eclipse in the state, going dark at 1:36 p.m. April 8 and experiencing pitch-black conditions for 4 minutes, 16 seconds.  

The last time that a total solar eclipse is known to have swept the area was July 20, 1506, CTC resident astronomer Warren Hart said. 

“I have never gotten to experience the actual viewing of a total solar eclipse,” Hart added. “This will be very special for me.”

Dome programs in the onsite planetarium will be 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on April 8, with a break from 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. to mark the historic eclipse. 

Weekend programming will include dome shows and speakers from 4-8 p.m. on April 5; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. April 6; and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. April 7. 

Speakers will include Hart of CTC; Ota Lutz, education manager for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.; and John Blackwell, observatory director and astronomy teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

A special “Dinner Under the Stars'' will be 5:30-8 p.m. April 6. The event will feature a social hour, gourmet dinner, solar eclipse theater show and stargazing with Hart. 

“Hopefully this will get younger adults and children interested in learning what is in the night sky,” Hart said. “This is the opportunity to experience the ultimate astronomical event in their lifetimes.”

Tickets for all events can be purchased at the Mayborn Science Theater or by calling 254-526-1662. For more information, go to ctcd.edu/solar-eclipse.

Visitors to CTC should know that alcohol, tobacco or vaping products are not allowed on campus. 

The “Eclipse Over Central Texas” weekend is sponsored by CTC, in partnership with Mayborn Science Theater, the City of Killeen and the Killeen Convention & Visitors Bureau.