May 19, 2024

Solar eclipse: What you need to know

On April 8, for the first time since 1806, a 124-mile-wide range in Ohio will witness a total solar eclipse. 

A solar eclipse occurs when the path of the moon lines up with the path of the sun, covering the sun’s light. The partial eclipse will enter Ohio at 1:59 p.m. and will exit at 4:29 p.m. From 3:08-3:19 p.m., people across Ohio will be able to witness the eclipse reach totality. 

This solar eclipse is rare for North Americans to see, but even more rare for Ohioans. The last solar eclipse visible in Ohio was in 1806 and the next will be in 2099, so for many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

The counties that fall on the centerline of totality are Lorain, Erie, Huron, Seneca, Wyandot, Hardin, Auglaize, Shelby and Darke. As the map moves outward, the eclipse will have less visibility. 

Columbus is in a partial totality area, so people in the city will be able to experience up to 99.6% totality

To safely view the solar eclipse, viewers should use special-purpose solar filters, including eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers. The lenses on these viewers are composed of black polymer, which is around 100,000 times darker than regular sunglasses. This allows people to stare into the sun without causing severe eye damage.

Glasses must be certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to be sold as safe glasses. Glasses that meet the ISO’s standards will be labeled “ISO 12312-2,” so people should be careful to locate the label before using the glasses during the solar eclipse.

Despite some recommendations to layer sunglasses or use X-ray film as eye protection while watching the eclipse, there are no safe alternatives to eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers.

Solar eclipse glasses are available for purchase at most major retailers, like Walmart and Amazon.

University students are able to take advantage of their proximity to Columbus by attending events celebrating the eclipse downtown. 

The Center of Science and Industry (COSI) is hosting an event from 1:00-4:00 p.m. on the day of the eclipse featuring hands-on demonstrations, free solar eclipse glasses/kits and educational activities. 

In addition to their event, COSI is partnering with Land Grant Brewing Company to host a family-friendly eclipse viewing at Land Grant. There, adults over the age of 21 will be able to enjoy an all-new beer called Totality. Families are able to participate in hands-on demonstrations from COSI and will be able to access Gravity Park at Land Grant. Eclipse glasses are also available for free for attendees.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is hosting a “Solar-bration” to celebrate the solar eclipse. From 12-4 p.m., visitors will be able to obtain their free viewing glasses (while supplies last), take part in a hands-on activity from COSI, play a trivia game with Columbus Recreation and Parks, learn about songbird conservation from the Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative, talk with The Wilds about upcoming programs and enjoy a Velvet Ice Cream sundae created specifically for the eclipse. 

Many other Columbus locations, like IKEA, Dave & Buster’s at Polaris, the Columbus Metropolitan Library and KEMBA LIVE!, to name a few, have events on the day of the eclipse for people of all ages to view and celebrate the eclipse.

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