For basic information about how, when and where to experience North America’s total solar eclipse and why you must try to get yourself to the path of totality on April 8, check my main feed.
Where will you watch the eclipse on April 8? If you’re headed into the path of totality—that 115-mile-wide strip of North America in which day will briefly turn to night—a great option is a big public event organized by a museum, observatory or science center.
The perfect blend of education and excitement for families, only at these events will you get interactive stations offering solar telescopes and hands-on activities—and there are plenty to choose from across the U.S.
NOTE: This article only applies to those in the path of totality, which is set out in this map (below). If you’re not within the path of totality (which you can check on this interactive map, this eclipse simulator and in this eclipse look-up then you’ll see just a partial solar eclipse, which requires solar safety glasses at all times and is not rare or unusual.
Science, Safety And Solar Scopes
“The advantage of going to one of these big events is that you can have knowledgeable people sharing what they know,” said Dr. Tyler Nordgren, an Ithaca, New York-based astronomer, author of Sun Moon Earth and eclipse artist at Space Art Travel Bureau, in an interview. You can miss many things during a total solar eclipse, from the little pinhole projection of crescent suns cast by the leaves on trees to delicate shadow bands that appear on the ground right before and right after totality.
You may also use a solar telescope to at the sun as it’s partially eclipsed. “With a telescope, you will perhaps be able to see sunspots on the sun that just to the eye through your eclipse glasses may be invisible,” said Nordgren. “And if there’s an astronomer with a telescope that’s got an H-Alpha filter, you will see the prominences on the lunar limb of the sun before totality.” However, don’t count on being able to look at the totally eclipsed sun through a large telescope. While that would be an incredible sight indeed, it’s hugely unlikely to be offered at a big event, where queuing for a quick peek at the eclipsed sun is the practical limit.
Eclipses In Context
“One of the biggest advantages is that scientists will be there explaining what’s happening, and interpreting what people are viewing, preparing them for little details to see and putting in context,” said Kevin Schindler, Historian & Public Information Officer at Lowell Observatory, which is hosting the Eclipse Over Texas: Live From Waco at Baylor University’s McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas, for 20-30,000 people. “However you see it, it’s going to be a life-altering event, but when you understand more about it and the significance, it becomes even more meaningful.” There’ll be astronomers giving science talks, solar viewing, and special events, but it’s also part of a weekend-long celebration for Waco, so there will be family events the entire time.
There’s also the issue of safety. “One of the important things for us is safety and ensuring people understand. You can take your viewing glasses off during totality, but during the partial phases, you got to have them on,” said Schindler. “So we’ll announce when totality starts.”
“It can be a real party atmosphere—like seeing a movie with a crowd versus staying at home and watching something streaming on your TV by yourself,” said Nordgren. “It’s up to you, the individual, about what will bring you the maximum enjoyment.”
Here are 12 museums, science centers and events inside the path of totality organized by observatories to watch 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: 13:40 CDT, 2 minutes 28 seconds
Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Where: Dallas, Texas
Time and duration of totality: 13:40 CDT, 3 minutes 47 seconds
SU Solar Eclipse
Where: Loftis Observatory, Schreiner University, Kerrville, Texas
Time and duration of totality: 13:32 CDT, 4 minutes 23 seconds
Mid-America Science Museum
Where: Hot Springs, Arkansas
Time and duration of totality: 13:49 CDT, 3 minutes 46 seconds
Evansville Museum of Arts, History & Science
Where: Evansville, Indiana
Time and duration of totality: 15:02 EDT, 3 minutes 1 seconds
Armstrong Air & Space Museum
Where: Wapakoneta, Ohio
Time and duration of totality: 15:09 CDT, 3 minutes 57 seconds
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Where: Cleveland, Ohio
Time and duration of totality: 15:14 EDT, 3 minutes 49 seconds
Genesee Country Village & Museum
Where: Mumford, New York
Time and duration of totality: 15:19 EDT, 3 minutes 37 seconds
Rochester Museum & Science Center
Where: Rochester, New York
Time and duration of totality: 15:20 EDT, 3 minutes 40 seconds
Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology
Where: Syracuse, New York
Time and duration of totality: 15:23 EDT, 1 minute 30 seconds
Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory
Where: Tupper Lake, New York
Time and duration of totality: 15:24 EDT, 3 minutes 33 seconds
Where: Mont-Mégantic National Park, Quebec, Canada
Time and duration of totality: 15:28 EDT, 3 minutes and 28 seconds
I’m an expert on eclipses—the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com and author of The Complete Guide To The Great North American Eclipse of April 8, 2024. For the very latest on the total solar eclipse—including travel and lodging options—check my main feed for new articles each day.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.