by Dan Holland
All eyes will be on the sky April 8, when a total solar eclipse traces a path from southwest to northeast across 13 U.S. states, passing through Northeast Ohio with totality beginning around 3:15 p.m. in the Greater Cleveland and Greater Akron areas.
During the eclipse, which occurs when the Moon casts a shadow on the Earth (the umbra), obscuring the sun, the time of totality will last for three- to-four minutes. A partial eclipse will be visible prior to and after totality, beginning around 2 p.m. and ending around 4:30 p.m., according to timeanddate.com. The site explains that a total solar eclipse can only take place when the Moon is near perigee – the point at which the Moon’s orbit is nearest to the Earth. The closer proximity allows the eclipse to be larger and longer in duration.
The eclipse should only be viewed with specially designed solar glasses. Staring directly at the sun, even with very dark sunglasses, can cause permanent eye damage.
Municipalities, school districts, astronomy groups and other entities across Northern Ohio have already begun planning for the event, as travelers from around the country are expected to converge on Northeast Ohio and other areas in the path to experience the event in person. The last total solar eclipse visible in Ohio occurred in 1806, with the next one not scheduled until 2099, according to Ohio.gov. A partial solar eclipse was visible in Northeast Ohio in August 2017.
The Summit County Astronomy Club, which operates the Fairlawn Rotary Observatory at Bath Nature Preserve, located at 4160 Ira Rd., is equipped with 10 solar scopes and also maintains a large number of hand-held viewers, according to club president John Shulan. A number of daytime and nighttime programs will be held during eclipse week, which will be posted at meetup.com/Summit-County-Astronomy-meetup. All programs are free and open to the public. The club is presently looking into acquiring a camera that will allow the event to be broadcast live on YouTube, he added.
Specific plans in Cuyahoga Valley National Park for the day of the eclipse have not been finalized, according to Public Information Officer Pamela Barnes. Once they are, those plans will be available at nps.gov/cuva/eclipse as park administrators continue to build out the page, she said. Visitors should expect to encounter heavy traffic and long waits in areas of the park during the eclipse. It is recommended that attendees consider carpooling and have plenty of gas, food and drink on hand.
The Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park is presenting a series entitled “Exploring Dark Skies” in anticipation of the eclipse. For information, visit conservancyforcvnp.org.
The Richfield Chamber of Commerce and the Richfield Brewery are planning activities in the center of town on April 8. The Chamber will begin selling sweatshirts and T-shirts in December in recognition of the eclipse and the completion of the state’s tallest water tower.
For detailed information on the upcoming total solar eclipse, visit the NASA website at nasa.gov/eclipses/future-eclipses/eclipse-2024. ∞