Solar eclipse 2024: Here’s how some Ohio universities are celebrating the total eclipse

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When the moon passes over the sun during the April 8 total solar eclipse, a number of Ohio colleges and universities will be in its direct path. Many schools — even those who aren’t in the eclipse’s direct path — are hosting events and adjusting their schedules to celebrate the astronomical phenomenon.

Universities in western, central and northeastern Ohio will get some of the best view of the eclipse.

Dayton cancels classes, Wright State stays open

The University of Dayton will adjust its class schedule on April 8 to account for the eclipse. Undergraduate, graduate and doctoral classes held between 1:25 and 4:50 p.m. will not meet. All classes before 1:25 p.m. or after 4:50 p.m. will meet as scheduled.

A map showing the total solar eclipse's path through Ohio.

In a January email to faculty and staff, Wright State University Provost Amy Thompson reminded everyone that classes will be in session on April 8, but to plan accordingly.

“There may be heavy traffic and a lot of visitors to the university for this historic event. This could pose a challenge for commuting students who attend classes that day,” she said. “I ask that you plan your spring 2024 course schedules accordingly to ensure that students will not be penalized for missing class that day during impacted class time blocks.”

Thompson encouraged faculty to make time for students to watch the eclipse. Special viewing stations will be available on the Dayton campus.

“Regardless of what time you hold class that day, I encourage you to further engage your students by incorporating the eclipse event into your course materials and/or assignments, if possible,” she said.

Wright State’s Lake Campus, about 80 miles north of Dayton in Celina, will also have programming throughout the day.

Paleontology professor Chuck Ciampaglio will give a talk on the science behind a total solar eclipse at 1:30 p.m., and history professor Dane Daniel will discuss solar eclipses throughout the years at 2 p.m.

A campuswide solar eclipse watch party will follow, which will be free and open to the public.

Cleveland State offers multiple events

Cleveland State University has multiple events planned on and off campus.

The university’s physics department will have a booth at Cleveland’s Total Eclipse Fest from April 6-8, a festival hosted in partnership of the Great Lakes Science Center and the NASA Glenn Center.

CSU’s Society of Physics Students is hosting a full day of on-campus events for the eclipse.

Activities will include a presentation by West Virginia University’s Joseph Glaser, Ph.D., about the eclipse and the work of radio astronomers at the Geauga County Observatory Park; a talk from CSU physics professor Thijs Heus, Ph.D., on the weather and the eclipse; a pizza lunch and watching the eclipse from an observation deck.

The event, which will be held in and around the Science and Research Center on campus, is free but registration is required.

University of Toledo opening Glass Bowl Stadium

The University of Toledo, which sits near the northern cusp of the eclipse’s path, is opening up Glass Bowl Stadium for public eclipse viewing. The stadium will open from noon to 6 p.m. for visitors, and eclipse viewing glasses will be available while supplies last. The university will also have educational information, music and food trucks around nearby Centennial Mall.

Bowling Green State University main campus opening stadium

Bowling Green State University’s main campus in Bowling Green just off I-75 in northwest Ohio is hosting a free solar eclipse watch party from 1-4:30 p.m. at Doyt L. Perry Stadium. Gates open at noon for BGSU students, faculty and staff. There is free parking at the stadium lot, and solar eclipse glasses will be given free to all watch party attendees when they enter the gate. (Students, faculty and staff will get theirs the week prior to the eclipse at information desks in the stuent union, Jerome Library, Student Recreation Center and at residence hall.)

The watch party will be a family-friendly event that will include a variety of fun and educational activities, including make-your-own clay celestial body, eclipse drawing and coloring activities, eclipses through history posters, a rainbow spectrum box, inflatables and giant board games, telescopes on the field to view the sky, food concessions and more.

Bowling Green State University’s Firelands campus watch party

The Bowling Green State University Firelands campus in Huron is in the path of totality and will be hosting a fun-filled day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a variety of activities for all ages and interests. You can choose to watch the eclipse indoors or outdoors, with special glasses provided for your safety. You can also enjoy family friendly movies, glow party, story time, yard games, arts and crafts, and more. In addition, there will be ensemble performances by the Firelands Symphony Orchestra, featuring music inspired by the sun and the stars.

Even schools who aren’t in the eclipse’s direct path of totality are hosting events.

Ohio University’s Chillicothe campus will have an eclipse viewing and educational programming on the lawn between Bennett Hall and Shoemaker Center from 2-4 p.m. Although Chillicothe is not in the path of totality, it is close to the path of totality.

OU Chillicothe faculty will hold demonstrations on solar telescopes, pinhole cameras, the science behind the eclipse and other astronomy topics. Eclipse viewing glasses will be available while supplies last. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets for the outdoor event.

Meanwhile, Ohio Northern University had planned a “Solar Eclipse Visit Day” program and was taking registrations, but has since decided to cancel the event as well as all classes that day and close the campus to outside visitors out of concern for the crowds expected to flood the area.

“Ada and Hardin County are in the path of totality for the eclipse. Based on estimates from emergency management officials, as many as 150,000 visitors (2-3 times normal) will converge on the county, potentially gridlocking traffic before and after the event, impacting cellphone service due to heightened network use, and limiting the availability of gas and food along travel routes,” the college’s website states. 

“While those of us at Ohio Northern hope that everyone safely enjoys viewing the eclipse, out of an abundance of caution and to safeguard university infrastructure and facilities, ONU administrators have elected to close campus to the public. All parking lots will be closed to visitors and no public eclipse viewing spaces will be available.”

4th graders Ryan Steward, 9, left, Linden Marim, 9, center, and Drew Adamkosky, 9, right, from Oak Creek elementary in Olentangy watch the start of the solar eclipse during the COSI solar eclipse watch party in Columbus, Ohio on August 21, 2017.

Sheridan Hendrix is a higher education reporter for The Columbus Dispatch. Sign up for Extra Credit, her education newsletter, here.