Totality Tips: A Beginning Guide to the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse


Most of us remember the August 2017 partial solar eclipse in Ohio. Fortunately, we are now living in a time that allows Central Ohioians to experience a FULL solar eclipse. As stated through the Ohio EMA’s website: “The total solar eclipse visits Ohio on April 8, 2024 beginning at 3:08 pm EDT with the final exit of the Moon’s shadow from the state at 3:19 pm EDT.” Meaning, on Monday April 8, 2024, Central Ohio will be in the path of totality!

In 2017, I was blessed to take a mother-daughter trip to the Jefferson Davis State Historic Site in Kentucky, to experience full totality. While it was with adults, many ideas stood out. Especially with school-aged youth, we are planning a personal Watch Party since the kids have a day off from school. Be sure to look into different community events, but keep the following tips in mind.

2017 Solar Eclipse at Jefferson Davis State Historic Site

What is A Solar Eclipse?

As defined by NASA, “A solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth that either fully or partially blocks the Sun’s light in some areas. This only happens occasionally, because the Moon doesn’t orbit in the exact same plane as the Sun and Earth do.”

Further, the 2024 solar eclipse will be the last total solar eclipse visible to the contiguous United States until 2044!

Be Mindful of Location

One of the most amazing parts of any scheduled, geological phenomenon is the idea of tourism. The more centered you are in the line of totality, the longer the total eclipse will last. As stated by Cleveland Scene, Lorain County is projected to have 900,000 tourists travel to see the eclipse. While the center line of totality does not go immediately through Central Ohio, all of Central Ohio is in line for partial totality! Full totality will last 3-3.5 minutes, partial full totality varies with 2-3 minutes; the full process of partial totality-full totality-partial totality takes a couple of hours.

Many spaces in Central Ohio are planning family-friendly Watch Parties. Some of these spaces include COSI, Columbus Metroparks, other science museums and Visit Dublin. The hardest part about the event will be transportation. In 2017, when leaving the Jefferson Davis Historic Site, traffic was gridlocked for hours on both country roads and highways. Be sure to plan transportation, needs for transportation (such as a safe vehicle/gas/coolant), trading transportation leaders (drivers), food, fun (games/puzzles/crafts), and other travel necessities (a fully stocked diaper bag) if planning to attend an event or travel!


As with any sort of event, food can create its own culture. Between freeze-dried astronaut food, intergalactic labeled snacks, event-specific food, or creating your own space-themed food can be kind of fun. Especially for kids, who wouldn’t like to try a Moon Pie while watching the moon cast its shadow? Personally, we are excited to eat some Eclipse Chipse. Ordered from Ballreich’s Snacks out of Tiffin (Ohio), Eclipse Chipse are a specialty flavor potato chip (black pepper-white cheddar cheese) with commemorative labeling.

2017 Gas Station Eclipse Snacks included Moon Pies, Eclipse Gum, Luna Bars, and Milky Way candy bars
Packaging of Ballreich’s Eclipse Chipse. Ordered via Ballreich’s website in January 2024

Dress for the Occasion: Keep Your Eyes Safe & Enjoy Playing with your Outfit

While watching the eclipse, fashion is an accessory. Wearing a space-themed shirt or creating your own Moon Suit could be fun Watch Party additions!

But most importantly…DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN WITHOUT THE PROPER GLASSES! Check out this post for more Solar Eclipse Safety Information.

Specifically designed solar eclipse glasses not only allow you to see the phases’ totality but also block all other sunlight out. Looking directly at the sun for ANY period of time could impact eyesight. Solar eclipse glasses use special-purpose solar filters. They must meet a very specific standard known as ISO 12312-2. Typical UV sunglasses will not let you see the phases of the solar eclipse and can be equally impactful to eyesight. If you see any damage/scratches on your lenses, do not use them.

Be sure to take rest breaks from watching as the full solar eclipse process takes a couple of hours! Especially for a kiddo, erring on the side of caution while looking directly at the sun is important. Be aware that the solar eclipse glasses fit well on the kiddo’s face. It is ok to practice inside the house or for a few weeks before the eclipse event so that glasses can stay on the child’s face and they can follow directions on how to view safely.

Solar eclipse glasses can be purchased online. As time comes closer to the event, many public entities will be handing them out (such as the Public Library systems). However, the sooner these are purchased, the sooner you can have safety discussions.

Wearing a commemorative 2017 Solar Eclipse shirt while pointing to the phase of the moon during the waning period after totality at Jefferson Davis State Historic Site in Todd County, Kentucky

Be Aware of Environment Changes

One of the most common misconceptions about a solar eclipse is that all of the sky will be pitched black. This is a myth! On a perfectly sunny day during a total solar eclipse, the sky will be darkened, and around the horizon, there will still be light. During totality, the air gets cooler and the natural environment quiet (especially, bugs, wind, and animals).

Capturing Pictures

As mentioned previously, looking directly at the sun during the event could hurt your eyes immensely…let alone whatever device you hope to use to take pictures. Picture-taking devices at the sun or zooming could impact the device.

When we traveled to Kentucky in 2017, my mother initially joked that I had purchased a phone-sized telescope for my Android phone, attached the telescope to the phone, cut a pair of solar eclipse glasses in half, and taped one of the lenses over top of the telescope. As the total eclipse went on, it was no longer a joke. My eyes were able to have a break and quality commemorative pictures were taken.

2017 Partial Totality in Todd County, Kentucky. Picture taken quickly with no filter or zoom via Samsung S8
Partial Solar Eclipse taken August 2017 via Samsung S8 with attached telescope and home made solar eclipse filter
Center Line Totality of 2017 Solar Eclipse in Todd County (Kentucky). Picture taken quickly with no filter or zoom in the height of totality from the ground via Samsung S8
Full Solar Eclipse. Picture taken on August 21, 2017 via Samsung S8 with telescope and solar eclipse filter attachment (created from tape and one lens of a pair of solar eclipse glasses) at the Jefferson Davis Historic State Historic Site in Todd County, Kentucky

Look to the Post Office for Souvenir Ideas

In 2017, the USPS created holographic postcards and a commemorative stamp. The USPS’s first thermochromatic ink stamp. The ink allowed another image to appear with heat/UV; meaning, if you placed your finger over the new moon, it would change to a full moon. Please note, that specific lunar eclipse stamps are not currently out but projected to happen in 2024 at this time.

Postmarked 2017 Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever Stamp; the USPS first Thermocromatic Ink stamp

Most Importantly: Enjoy the Experience!

From emotional awe to environmental shifts, the maximum of the total solar eclipse is truly a scientific marvel!

Imitating how to capture photo of the 2017 solar eclipse in Todd County, Kentucky. Please note, there is no phone in the tripod and the solar eclipse filter is not taped onto the telescope

Websites For More Information

Ohio EMA: giving insight to location, ways to view safely, and additional resources

NASA Space Play: The Space Play pages from NASA are one of our go-tos for definitions, games, crafts, activities, and videos. This would be a wonderful introduction

Columbus Dispatch: Five Things to Know About the Solar Eclipse in 2024

Columbus Navigator: Offering Insight to Central Ohio Astronomy Groups, Tips of Pictures, Safety, and Travel

NASA: Safety Guidelines for the day

Where to Buy the Best Solar Eclipse Glasses

We can’t wait to hear your experiences from a very special day!

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Melanie Bange
By day, Melanie works full time in the fields of education, social service, and juvenile justice. By night, Melanie is a partner (Wes), mother to an infant (Otis), support parent to two a teenager and elementary schooler (Maddie and Wesley), and suburban farmer (4 chickens) among other roles. Growing up as a Navy Brat with family from Northern Louisiana, Melanie created roots in Central Ohio based on access to travel, diversity, and Midwest honesty. Melanie prides herself on enjoying local businesses, finding low cost family opportunities, and prioritizing self-care. On a weekend, you may find Melanie at a Farmer's Market, museum, coffee shop, restaurant, trying out a new recipe, or traveling on a day trip away from Central Ohio. A typical date night for Melanie includes riding on the back of a Victory motorcycle, exploring a record shop, or attending a concert. Melanie and family love to kayak, hike, shop, explore museum exhibits, play board games (especially Sleeping Queens), paint, and dabble in "try nights" (trying a variety of junk food after eating a nutritious meal). Follow along with Melanie and the family's adventures on Instagram at ohiogirl.travelingworld


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