While meteor showers and comets are undoubtedly fascinating to witness, no celestial phenomenon is as breathtaking as a total solar eclipse. This is primarily due to the rarity of such an event compared to other types of eclipses. The upcoming 2024 total solar eclipse is expected to be especially remarkable and awe-inspiring.
Since the total eclipse will pass over much of Ohio, there will be plenty of cities, towns, parks, and more where you can watch this amazing spectacle. For both Ohioans and visitors, here is all the information you need to know about eclipses, including when and where to witness the 2024 total solar eclipse in the Buckeye State.
The 2024 total solar eclipse will pass over Ohio on April 8, 2024, beginning at 3:08 p.m. EDT and ending at almost 3:19 p.m. EDT, though the partial eclipse will start sooner and end later. The Moon’s shadow will travel at 2,110 miles per hour on average across the state.
What Is an Eclipse?
When the sun, moon, and Earth align, the appearance of the sun and moon (to us) changes, resulting in an eclipse. Our unique position on Earth allows us to witness this fascinating cosmic event.
Unfortunately, eclipses — particularly total solar eclipses — are becoming increasingly infrequent as time passes. This is because the moon is gradually moving away from Earth, causing it to block out less of the sun when it passes between the sun and our planet. Eventually, in the distant future, total solar eclipses will cease to occur altogether.
Interesting Eclipse Facts
Although there are countless fascinating facts to learn about eclipses, we’ve compiled a few of the most intriguing ones:
- The term “eclipse” originates from the Greek word “ekleipsis,” meaning “the darkening of a heavenly body,” “the downfall,” or “the abandonment.”
- The oldest known record of an eclipse dates back to 3340 B.C. and is found on circular stone carvings in Meath Ireland.
- A total eclipse occurs approximately every 1.5 years but only once every 360 years on average at the same location.
- If the moon’s orbit were perfectly circular, a total solar eclipse would occur during every new moon.
- Only partial solar eclipses can be observed from the North and South Poles.
- The longest total solar eclipse on record lasted nearly 7.5 minutes and occurred on June 15, 743 B.C.
- Despite traveling the world for 50 years in pursuit of eclipses, Canadian astronomer J.W. Campbell never witnessed one due to overcast skies.
- Christopher Columbus utilized the lunar eclipse of Feb. 29, 1504, to persuade the natives of Jamaica to assist him, threatening to cut off the moon’s light if they refused.
When & Where Does the 2024 Path of Totality Pass Over Ohio?
The 2024 total solar eclipse is scheduled to take place on Monday, April 8, 2024. The path of totality refers to the area where the moon’s shadow falls on the Earth, completely obstructing the sun. Cities located near but outside of this path will still experience a partial solar eclipse.
In Ohio’s path of totality, the earliest that the partial eclipse will start in the Southwest and Northwest is at 1:51 p.m. (almost 1:52 p.m.). Then, it will pass over parts of Central Ohio, and the latest that it will end in the Northeast is at 4:28 p.m.
However, the earliest that totality will start is at 3:08 p.m., and the latest that it will end is at 3:19 p.m. While totality will last less than 30 seconds in some cities and towns, it will last up to 3 minutes and 58 seconds in others.
Over 7 million Ohioans reside within the path of totality, and due to Ohio’s convenient location within a one-day drive for 70% of the country’s population, hundreds of thousands of individuals are anticipated to visit various areas throughout the state to witness the solar eclipse.
Below are some places that will experience about 2 minutes or more of totality, along with a few parks and attractions where you can set up to watch the phenomenon.
NOTE: The time of totality for each town is provided below, but it is important to note that the partial eclipse will occur more than 1 hour before totality. To fully enjoy the experience without rushing, we suggest arriving at your selected destination at least 2 hours prior to the start of totality.
In Dayton Ohio, totality will start at 3:09 p.m. and will last 2 minutes and 42 seconds. This birthplace of aviation has dozens of great attractions, including several parks for watching the elcipse — Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark, Deeds Point MetroPark, and RiverScape MetroPark.
A thriving city with a lively atmosphere, Findlay Ohio will experience solar eclipse totality at 3:10 p.m. for 3 minutes and 44 seconds. Several recreational attractions here are ideal for witnessing this historic event — Emory Adams Park, Riverside Park, and Blanchard River Greenway Trail.
The path of totality will start at 3:11 p.m. and last for 3 minutes and 33 seconds in Marion Ohio. Alongside a rich history and thriving downtown, here are a few places to watch the celestial spectacle — Harding Memorial, Veterans Memorial Park, McKinley Park, and Big Island Wildlife Area.
On the shores of Lake Erie, Sandusky Ohio will observe totality at 3:12 p.m. for 3 minutes and 45 seconds. Shoreline Park, Great Lakes Cruises, and Cedar Point will all offer ideal vantage points for seeing the total solar eclipse.
In Ashland Ohio, you will see totality at 3:12 p.m. for 3 minutes and 18 seconds. Some places around the city that offer open spaces to view the eclipse include Freer Field, Audubon Wetlands Preserve, Brookside West Park, and Brookside Golf Course.
Offering world-class experiences on Lake Erie, Cleveland Ohio will experience totality at 3:13 p.m. (almost 3:14 p.m.) for 3 minutes and 48 seconds. There are tons of places to watch, such as Cleveland Cultural Gardens, Rockefeller Park & Greenhouse, and Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve.
The three-time All-America City of Akron Ohio will witness solar eclipse totality at 3:14 p.m. for 2 minutes and 47 seconds. Goodyear Heights Metro Park, Cascade Valley Metro Park, and Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail all offer open spaces for catching a glimpse of the spectacular event.
Loaded with golf courses and outdoor activities, Warren Ohio will observe totality at 3:15 p.m. (almost 3:16 p.m.) for 1 minute and 57 seconds. The Old Avalon Golf Course, Courthouse Square Park, and Western Reserve Greenway Bike Trail are just a few places that are good for viewing.
From 3:15 p.m., Ashtabula Ohio will see totality for 3 minutes and 45 seconds. The city has many scenic attractions and things to do where you can enjoy this phenomenon, including Lake Shore Park, Saybrook Township Lakefront Park, and a covered bridges tour — Benetka Road Covered Bridge, Olin Covered Bridge, Riverview Covered Bridge, and Smolen-Gulf Covered Bridge.
Why Is the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse So Special?
Although the United States experienced a total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017, the 2024 total solar eclipse is particularly noteworthy for several reasons. For one, total solar eclipses typically do not occur so closely together or pass over as many regions and states.
Prior to the 2017 eclipse, the last coast-to-coast eclipse took place on June 8, 1918. Following the 2024 eclipse, the next coast-to-coast eclipse will not occur until Aug. 12, 2045. In Ohio, the most recent total solar eclipse occurred in 1806, and the next one is not expected until the year 2099.
In addition, the 2024 eclipse will traverse 13 states, entering from Southern Texas and exiting from Aroostook County Maine. This will provide individuals in states that did not experience the 2017 eclipse with the opportunity to witness this extraordinary celestial event.
Furthermore, the 2024 eclipse will pass over several large cities, with totality lasting up to 4 minutes and 27 seconds — nearly double the duration of the 2017 eclipse. In most cities, the eclipse will last between 3.5 to 4 minutes.
Lastly, the path of totality for the 2024 total solar eclipse will span three countries — Mexico, the United States, and Canada — with the longest duration of totality occurring over the United States.
What to Expect During a Total Solar Eclipse
As you observe the 2024 total solar eclipse, you will witness several distinct stages. Here is a brief overview of each phase to help you prepare for what to expect.
Initially, you will witness the moon slowly moving between the Earth and the sun. This moment is referred to as “first contact.” As the moon moves in front of the sun, you will usually witness a partial eclipse that lasts approximately 70 to 80 minutes.
Shadow Bands & Baily’s Beads
Just before and after totality, you will observe quickly moving, dark bands on the ground and buildings. These shadow bands are created by the turbulent cells in the Earth’s upper atmosphere that distort the sun’s light. These bands can be challenging to see and capture on camera.
At the same time, you will also witness shining points of light around the edges of the moon known as Baily’s Beads. These beads are light rays passing through the valleys on the horizon of the moon and are short-lived, so you need to pay attention.
As the Baily’s Beads fade, only one bright spot will remain visible along the edge of the moon. This diamond ring signifies that totality is just moments away.
When the moon is entirely in front of the sun, its light will be entirely blocked, and the sky will darken as if it’s dawn or dusk. This moment is also known as “second contact.” The length of this phase will depend on your proximity to the center of the path of totality.
During totality, you may witness the chromosphere and corona. The chromosphere is a section of the solar atmosphere that appears as a thin, pink circle around the moon. The corona is the outer solar atmosphere that appears as white streams of light.
In the aftermath of totality, the sky will begin to brighten again as the phases of the eclipse reverse. This moment is also referred to as “third contact.” You will witness the diamond ring, followed by the Baily’s Beads and shadow bands, and then another partial eclipse as the moon continues its orbit. The moment that the moon no longer blocks any of the sun is known as “fourth contact.”
How Do You Safely Watch a Solar Eclipse?
It is common knowledge that direct exposure to sunlight can be harmful to your eyes. Therefore, it is crucial to avoid looking directly at the sun, even when wearing sunglasses. This is especially important when viewing a solar eclipse of any kind, and it’s recommended to wear special eye protection.
NOTE: Only lunar eclipses are safe to view with the naked eye, as well as through binoculars or a telescope.
About Eye Damage
The cones and rods in the human retina are highly sensitive to light. During daylight, the iris contracts to allow only a small amount of light to pass through the eye lens and reach the retina. However, even a tiny sliver of sunlight can cause severe eye damage if you look directly at it.
Directly staring at the sun can result in the appearance of dark or yellow spots in your vision, blurry vision, or even loss of vision in the fovea — the central part of the eye.
It takes only around 100 seconds to permanently damage the retina, but this time frame could be even shorter depending on the intensity of sunlight and other factors. Since the retina has no pain receptors, damage can occur without any indication or warning.
Eye Safety Guidelines
To safely observe the various phases of the 2024 total solar eclipse without causing damage to your eyes, it’s essential to wear ISO-certified glasses. ISO stands for the International Standards Organization — a global organization that establishes comprehensive safety standards for various items, including eclipse-safe lens filters.
Despite wearing ISO-certified eclipse glasses, it is still not advisable to stare at the eclipse for too long before and after totality. This is because the sun’s infrared heat can warm your eyes, leading to dangerous overheating of the fluids and tissues. To prevent this, take breaks and look away from the eclipse periodically to allow your eyes to cool down.
However, during the totality phase, it is safe to remove your protective glasses since there is no direct sunlight that can damage your retina. Just remember to put your glasses back on before the totality phase ends to avoid any potential eye damage.
To capture photos or videos of each phase of the 2024 total solar eclipse, it is necessary to outfit your camera with a specialized solar filter. Ensure that the filter fits securely over the front of the camera lens. It is only safe to remove this filter during totality.
Skin Safety Guidelines
While preparing to view an eclipse, it’s easy to overlook the importance of protecting your skin. However, it’s crucial to safeguard your skin just as you would your eyes since you’ll be exposed to direct sunlight for the majority of the event. Remember to apply sunblock, wear protective clothing, and consider wearing a hat if necessary.
Does Weather Affect Solar Eclipse Visibility?
Undoubtedly, the only factor that can entirely spoil the experience of the 2024 total solar eclipse is poor weather. If it’s too cloudy, you won’t be able to see anything.
Regrettably, meteorologists can only make predictions to a certain extent regarding the weather. Therefore, it’s wise to have a contingency plan in place, such as an alternative location that you can reach in time for the eclipse if your primary destination is unsuitable.
Ohio Weather During the 2024 Eclipse
April weather in Ohio can be challenging for eclipse-viewing because of an average 60% to 70% cloud cover. This is especially true for areas along Lake Erie, where the lake temperatures are only slightly above freezing. Cumulus clouds, towering cumulus clouds, and even thunderstorms can develop on unsettled days.
However, the cold air over the lakes and the nearby lee shore can suppress heating from below, helping to keep the skies clear over the lake and a few kilometers inland.
To increase your chances of witnessing the total solar eclipse in 2024, we recommend monitoring short-term weather forecasts closely. If poor weather is forecasted, consider driving to the southwest or northeast in search of clearer skies.
How Eclipses Affect Weather
In addition to potentially spoiling the viewing experience, the 2024 total solar eclipse may also have four effects on the weather. When the sun’s light is blocked from reaching the Earth during the eclipse, the temperature can drop by as much as 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
As the temperature decreases, shallow clouds may disperse since they require heat and moisture to sustain themselves, while deeper storm clouds will be affected less. Additionally, the lower temperature can cause the atmosphere to contract and stabilize, resulting in a reduction in wind speed.
In areas that are warm and dry, humidity levels may increase by 20% or more. In regions with already high humidity, smaller differences may occur.
What Are the Types of Eclipses?
There are various types of eclipses beyond just partial and total, including multiple types of lunar eclipses. Additionally, planetary transits are observable periodically. Here is a brief summary of each of these celestial occurrences.
When the moon’s orbit moves between the sun and Earth, a solar eclipse takes place. The type of solar eclipse witnessed depends on the moon’s position in relation to the distance from the sun and the planet. The eclipse could be total, annular, partial, or hybrid.
Total Solar Eclipse
When the moon is in close proximity to the Earth, it can appear to be the same size as the sun from our perspective. This is due to the sun’s vast size, which is approximately 400 times larger than the moon but is also about 400 times farther away from Earth. As a result, when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, it can completely block the sun’s light, resulting in a solar eclipse.
Annular Solar Eclipse
Due to the non-circular orbit of the moon around Earth, it appears smaller than the sun when it passes between the sun and Earth at its farthest point from our planet. This occurrence results in an annular eclipse, which appears as a ring of light around the moon.
Partial Solar Eclipse
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes in between the sun and Earth, but if the alignment is not perfect, the moon only partially blocks the sun. This results in a crescent shape in the sky and a penumbra, which is a lighter, outer shadow on a part of the planet. It is worth noting that every solar eclipse can be considered a partial eclipse from certain perspectives.
Hybrid Solar Eclipse
Due to the curved surface of the Earth, a solar eclipse can transition from a total eclipse to an annular eclipse as the moon moves between the sun and the planet. This type of eclipse, known as a hybrid eclipse, is extremely rare.
When the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun, a lunar eclipse occurs. This causes the shadow of the Earth to fall over the moon, and this type of eclipse can be observed from anywhere. It typically lasts for more than an hour.
Total Lunar Eclipse
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon is completely covered by the Earth’s shadow. Due to how sunlight bends around the planet’s surface, the moon appears red instead of black.
Partial Lunar Eclipse
A partial lunar eclipse occurs when only a portion of the moon is covered by the Earth’s shadow. Similar to a total lunar eclipse, the covered section of the moon appears red.
Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
The darkest and central part of the Earth’s shadow caused by the sun is called the umbra, while the lighter and outer part is known as the penumbra. In a penumbral lunar eclipse, the moon is only affected by the Earth’s penumbra. Instead of turning the moon red, it only causes a dimming effect on the moon’s appearance.
Apart from solar and lunar eclipses, we can also observe planetary transits. These events take place when Mercury or Venus move between the Earth and the sun, appearing as small black dots to us. They can be observed anywhere during the daytime and can last for several hours.
Planetary transits are similar to miniature solar eclipses, but they are much less common. Mercury transits occur only about 13 times per century in May or November, whereas Venus transits happen twice within eight years of each other in June or December, with a gap of over 100 years between each pair.
What Is the History of Lunar & Solar Eclipses?
Eclipses have been occurring due to the alignment of the Earth, moon, and sun since long before humans existed. However, the earliest known record of an eclipse dates back to Nov. 30, 3340 B.C. on a set of circular stone carvings at the Loughcrew Megalithic Monument in Meath Ireland.
Various cultures worldwide have documented total solar eclipses and conducted studies on them. Additionally, there are numerous legends and myths associated with these astronomical phenomena.
Why Scientists Study Eclipses
NASA scientists utilize historical eclipse records to uncover new insights about the moon, sun, Earth, and space in general. For instance, they have used the earliest Chinese records to determine that the Earth’s rotation has slowed down — albeit slightly — over the past 3,200 years.
By studying new eclipses, scientists can address fundamental questions about our solar system, such as the solar wind’s impact on humans and technology. They can also gain a better understanding of the Earth’s atmosphere. Moreover, some data can only be collected during a total solar eclipse.
Legends, Lore, & Superstitions
Throughout history, people have had different reactions to and interpretations of solar eclipses, and many of them are rooted in fear.
For example, the ancient Chinese believed that a “heavenly dog” was devouring the sun during an eclipse and would beat on pots and drums to scare it away. However, the Chinese were not the only culture to hold such a belief:
- Ancient Vietnamese people believed it was a giant frog.
- The Vikings believed it to be a wolf.
- Hindus held that it was a demon’s severed head.
- Koreans attributed it to a mythical dog.
- The California Pomo Tribes believed it was a bear.
These are not the only fear-based legends and myths associated with total solar eclipses. The Japanese believed that poison would rain from the sky during an eclipse, prompting them to cover their water wells. Meanwhile, Transylvanians believed that eclipses brought plagues.
Additionally, some cultures still believe that eclipses can cause pregnancy-related issues — like birthmarks, blindness, and cleft lips. It is believed that the Aztecs began these superstitions because they thought that the supernatural creature biting the sun during an eclipse would also harm the baby of a pregnant woman who watched the event.
In addition to fear-based legends, there are some happier and more positive interpretations of solar eclipses. For instance, some people in Italy believe that planting flowers during an eclipse can result in more vibrant blooms.
Moreover, the Australian Aborigines, Germans, Native Americans, Tahitians, and West Africans viewed eclipses as romantic events, symbolizing the reunion of the sun and moon as long-lost lovers. Meanwhile, some Native American tribes believed that an eclipse was a way for nature to “check in” with Earth.
Total solar eclipses have been depicted in various forms of media, including books and television shows. For instance, they have appeared in “The Simpsons,” Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” Stephen King’s “Dolores Claiborne,” and “Little Shop of Horrors.”
In addition, eclipses have been featured in music, such as Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.” Notably, the first commercial eclipse cruise took place in 1972, and the first commercial eclipse flight occurred in 1974.
Plan Your Ohio Getaway to See the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse
Are you eagerly awaiting the 2024 total solar eclipse in Ohio? Start preparing for your cosmic adventure today and get ready for an unforgettable experience of a lifetime!