Total eclipse 2024: How to watch it around Cleveland, CWRU

Executive Editor Shivangi Nanda eclipses Director of Design Auden Koetters. Make sure you wear protective glasses when viewing the eclipse on April 8!
Executive Editor Shivangi Nanda eclipses Director of Design Auden Koetters. Make sure you wear protective glasses when viewing the eclipse on April 8!
Clay Preusch/The Observer

The solar eclipse is nearly here. On April 8, the eclipse will cross over Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. This year, Cleveland is in the path of totality, set to experience nearly four minutes of complete darkness in the middle of the afternoon. This path of totality is typically 1,000 miles long but only 100 miles wide, and it encompasses the area where the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun and causing the sky to darken. Cleveland won’t be in the path of totality again until 2444, so parties across Case Western Reserve University and the local area are maximizing opportunities to witness this natural phenomenon.

The eclipse itself will start at 1:59 p.m. and reach totality from 3:13 to 3:17 p.m. It will end at 4:29 p.m. Classes are canceled for the day, albeit all student-facing facilities such as libraries, dining halls and recreational areas will be open as per usual.

The most important consideration in viewing the eclipse is safety. Except for the few minutes of complete totality, it is unsafe to view the eclipse directly with your eyes. When watching the partial phases of the solar eclipse, individuals must make use of specialized eclipse glasses. According to NASA’s website, individuals must also not “look at the sun through a camera lens, telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while wearing eclipse glasses or using a handheld solar viewer—the concentrated solar rays will burn through the filter and cause serious eye injury.” Leading up to the event, CWRU will be providing one pair of eclipse glasses to all students and employees. Individuals can pick up these glasses at various locations on campus starting April 1 with the use of their CWRU ID.

In regard to eclipse activities, students can take part in educational seminars about the eclipse through the Office of Events and Programs. On the day of the eclipse, the University Program Board and Students for the Exploration and Development in Space (SEDS) are hosting a watch party from noon to 5 p.m. on Freiberger Field, where students can enjoy an evening of science-led activities, performances, food and more as the eclipse occurs overhead. Students will also have the opportunity to view the eclipse from various fields around campus, such as those in East Bell Commons and the Nord Family Greenway. Any open space that faces southwest with a clear line of sight is ideal, while many say finding locations with minimal street lights will enhance the experience.

Off-campus, University Circle and The Cleveland Museum of Natural History have partnered to host the “Total on the Oval: Eclipse Watch Party.” Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., The Cleveland Museum of Natural History will offer special programs and activities, and afterward the party will move outside to Wade Oval for the actual viewing. A bit further away, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will be hosting a four-day SolarFest where rock and roll fans can enjoy live music, trivia contests, a curated eclipse soundtrack and other musical activities for a $35 ticket. The largest of the events, The Great Lakes Science Center and its partners NASA’s Glenn Research Center and The Cleveland Orchestra will be hosting Total Eclipse Fest 2024, a three-day celestial celebration in downtown Cleveland. This free event boasts live music, hands-on science activities and programs from local partners, including CWRU.

An estimated 200,000 visitors are expected to visit Cleveland for the total solar eclipse. Reporting from the Cleveland Plain Dealer shows that airfare to Cleveland has increased by 109%, and 1500% more people searched for hotels in the city of Cleveland. Local University Circle hotels for two people the night between April 7 and 8 range from $250 to over $1,000.

As a result, there are many fears of both traffic and communication issues. In anticipation of increased tourism, Manager of Cuyahoga County Emergency Management Mark Christie advises people to “plan ahead … make an emergency supply kit [and] an emergency plan.”

To allow for the smooth movement of people, the City of Cleveland released an updated map on both streets and highway ramps in downtown Cleveland that will be closed for eclipse festivities and the countless others that will be closed for parking and stopping. Pertinent to the CWRU community, this includes a section of Euclid Avenue outside of University Hospitals. City officials are encouraging visitors and residents to take the RTA instead of personal vehicles in fear of large traffic jams that will disrupt flow.

In 2017, during the last total eclipse in the continental United States, traffic jams of more than 12 hours were reported by state transportation officials in the path of the eclipse. As such, areas such as Summit County are advising their residents to stay home and not travel far to view the eclipse.

Seeing the large influx of visitors, the Ohio General Assembly approved $1 million in grants available from the state’s emergency management department to support local first responders. Governor Mike DeWine also signed an executive order promoting all state agencies to create a plan for the expected spike. Officials are recommending that visitors instead plan to stay in place well after the eclipse has passed to minimize immediate traffic jams. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has released a forecast map, predicting traffic on local highways and major roads across the state, including various routes in downtown Cleveland. Even with ODOT’s lowest predictions, major roads around campus such as Euclid Avenue are expected to be fairly congested at best, if not completely blocked should visitor numbers increase.

The 2024 Solar Eclipse is set to make Cleveland history, so make the most of it. Create a plan ahead of time, scope out interesting locations and if traveling, plan on leaving early and returning late.

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