The Celestial Spectacle of the Upcoming Total Solar Eclipse

two  young women viewing an eclipse through glasses

Written by Susan Helmick, Graduate Assistant to the Graduate College

Get ready, Bearcats! On April 8, 2024, Ohioans will have a rare opportunity to witness a celestial event not experienced in more than two centuries. Within a 124-mile radius, we'll be treated to a total solar eclipse—a rare event where the moon slides in front of the sun, briefly dimming our daylight. While not everywhere will see the full blackout, most of Cincinnati will still get a peek at a partial eclipse. 

The Mythology and History of Total Solar Eclipses 

Eclipses hold a multitude of rich myths and history. Ancient cultures saw them as omens or cosmic battles. For example, the Aztecs and Mayans believed eclipses signaled upheaval, while Norse mythology spoke of a wolf swallowing the sun and Chinese folklore depicted a dragon devouring it. Even in modern times, the eclipse of August 21, 1914, coincided with the start of World War I, highlighting enduring superstitions. 

Solar eclipses have also been pivotal in shaping our scientific understanding. In 1633, Galileo Galilei's support for the heliocentric model was challenged during an eclipse. Similarly, the eclipse of May 29, 1919, allowed testing of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity, confirming his predictions and revolutionizing our view of the universe. 

Staying Safe While Watching the Eclipse 

As cool as it is to see, staring at the sun—even during a partial eclipse—is a no-go. Even during a partial eclipse, direct exposure to the sun can cause irreversible eye damage. Ensure you have appropriate eye protection, such as eclipse glasses or a solar viewer and check out trusted sources like the American Astronomical Society for approved vendors. The Graduate College will also be giving away a limited number of eclipse glasses (plus cookies and free Grad College swag) on Monday, April 8th during Grad Student Appreciation Week kickoff at TUC Plaza from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and at CARE/Crawley Atrium from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. If you're feeling crafty, you can make a pinhole projector or watch the shadows under trees to catch the eclipse safely. 

Eclipse Activities in Cincinnati 

Cincinnati's gearing up for the big day with some cool events. Here’s just a few to check out: 

  • Cincinnati Observatory Solar Eclipse Celebration: Swing by for a fun and safe viewing party with solar exhibits, talks, face painting, and food trucks. 

  • The Cincinnati Museum Center: Immerse yourself in educational exhibits and interactive activities, with special events like songs and stories and complimentary eclipse glasses. 

  • Miami Whitewater Forest Viewing Event: Explore educational stations, catch glimpses of local wildlife, and engage in citizen science at the Miami Whitewater Forest, the only Great Park in the path of totality.  

  • Cincinnati Astronomical Society: Delve deeper into the science of eclipses with comprehensive guides and educational events. 

  • YMCA: Attendees can enjoy solar eclipse parties at YMCA's Anderson, Burlington, and Colerain locations, along with a 0% join fee on April 8th. 

Looking for more? Here's a comprehensive list of events in Ohio and neighboring areas. 

Whether you're a seasoned astronomer or a curious observer, the upcoming eclipse offers an excellent opportunity for both enthusiasts and casual observers to come together and appreciate the wonders of the cosmos. But make sure to follow any guidelines or recommendations provided by event organizers to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Mark your calendars, gather your viewing gear, and get ready for an unforgettable cosmic experience.