February 26, 2024

12 Look at parties at science centers and museums – and why you should go

For basic information on how, when and where to experience North America’s total solar eclipse and why you should try to put yourself on the path of totality on April 8, check out my main feed.

Where will you watch the solar eclipse on April 8? If you’re entering the path of totality—that 115-mile-wide swath of North America where day briefly turns to night—a major public event hosted by a museum, observatory, or science center is a good option.

The perfect mix of education and excitement for families. Only at these events do you get interactive stations with solar telescopes and hands-on activities – and there are plenty to choose from in the US.

NOTE: This article applies only to those who are on the path of totality as shown on this map (below). If you are not within the path of totality (which you can control). this interactive map, this eclipse simulator and in this eclipse look-up then you will only see a partial solar eclipse, which requires solar safety glasses at all times and is not rare or uncommon.

Science, safety and solar scopes

“The benefit of going to one of these big events is that knowledgeable people can share what they know,” says Dr. Tyler Nordgren, an astronomer from Ithaca, New York, author of Sun Moon Earth and eclipse artist at Space Art. Travel agent, in an interview. You can miss many things during a total solar eclipse, from the tiny pinhole projection of crescent-shaped suns cast through the leaves on trees to delicate bands of shadows that appear on the ground just before and just after totality.

You can also use a solar telescope to look at the sun while it is partially eclipsed. “With a telescope you may be able to see sunspots on the sun that may be invisible only to the eye through your eclipse glasses,” says Nordgren. “And if there is an astronomer with a telescope that has an H-Alpha filter, you will see the prominences on the lunar edge of the Sun before totality.” However, don’t count on being able to look at the completely eclipsed sun through a large telescope. While that would be an incredible sight indeed, it’s highly unlikely to be offered at a major event, where queuing for a quick look at the eclipsed sun is the practical limit.

Eclipses in context

“One of the biggest benefits is that scientists will be there to explain what is happening, and interpret what people see, preparing them for small details to see and put into context,” said Kevin Schindler, Historian & Public Information Officer at Lowell Observatory, which hosts the Eclipse Over Texas: Live From Waco at Baylor University’s McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas, for 20-30,000 people. “No matter how you see it, it will be a life-changing event, but when you understand it more and understand its meaning, it becomes even more meaningful.” There will be astronomers giving science talks, sungazing and special events, but it’s also part of a weekend-long celebration for Waco, so there will be family events all the time.

There is also the issue of safety. “One of the most important things for us is safety and making sure people understand. You can take your viewing glasses off during totality, but you have to have them on during the partial phases,” Schindler said. “So we will announce when totality begins.”

Festive atmosphere

“It can be a real party atmosphere, like watching a movie with a crowd while staying home and watching something on your TV by yourself,” Nordgren says. “It is up to you, the individual, what will give you the maximum pleasure.”

Here are 12 museums, science centers and events within the path of totality, organized by observatories to view the total solar eclipse in the company of scientists, astronomers and nature lovers:

Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

Where: Fort Worth, Texas

Time and duration of totality: 1:40 PM CDT, 2 minutes 28 seconds

More information and tickets

Perot Museum of Nature and Science

Where: Dallas, Texas

Time and duration of totality: 1:40 PM CDT, 3 minutes 47 seconds

More information and tickets

SU Solar Eclipse

Where: Loftis Observatory, Schreiner University, Kerrville, Texas

Time and duration of totality: 1:32 PM CDT, 4 minutes 23 seconds

More information and tickets

Central America Science Museum

Where: Hot Springs, Arkansas

Time and duration of totality: 1:49 PM CDT, 3 minutes and 46 secondsS

More information and tickets

Evansville Museum of Art, History and Science

Where: Evansville, Indiana

Time and duration of totality: 3:02 PM EDT, 3 minutes 1 second

More information and tickets

Armstrong Air and Space Museum

Where: Wapakoneta, Ohio

Time and duration of totality: 3:09 PM CDT, 3 minutes 57 seconds

More information and tickets

Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Where: Cleveland, Ohio

Time and duration of totality: 3:14 PM EDT, 3 minutes 49 seconds

More information and tickets

Genesee Country Village and Museum

Where: Mumford, New York

Time and duration of totality: 3:19 PM EDT, 3 minutes 37 seconds

More information and tickets

Rochester Museum & Science Center

Where: Rochester, New York

Time and duration of totality: 3:20 PM EDT, 3 minutes and 40 seconds

More information and tickets

Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology

Where: Syracuse, New York

Time and duration of totality: 3:23 PM EDT, 1 minute 30 seconds

More information and tickets

Adirondack Sky Center and Observatory

Where: Tupper Lake, New York

Time and duration of totality: 3:24 PM EDT, 3 minutes 33 seconds

More information and tickets

Mont-Mégantic Observatory

Where: Mont-Mégantic National Park, Quebec, Canada

Time and duration of totality: 3:28 PM EDT, 3 minutes and 28 seconds

More information and tickets

I’m an expert on eclipses, the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com and author of The complete guide to the great North American solar eclipse of April 8, 2024. For the latest news on the total solar eclipse, including travel and accommodation options,check my main feed for new articles every day.

I wish you clear skies and big eyes.

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