For the first time since 1806, a total solar eclipse is coming to Ohio on April 8 — and Knox County will have a front-row seat. 

Hoards of visitors are expected to flood the state for a rare chance to see the sun completely blotted out by the moon, casting a shadow on Earth. The path of totality during this celestial event will cross portions of the county, including some parts of Gambier. 

But enjoy it while you can. The total eclipse won’t last long — especially at Kenyon, portions of which are along the very southern border of the path of totality — and it won’t be visible in Ohio again until the year 2099.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Bicentennial Advisory Committee will provide 2,000 custom glasses that will be handed out for free to the Kenyon community in the days leading up to the eclipse. They will be distributed April 4 - 5 and April 8 at a table in the atrium of Peirce Hall and in the Kenyon College Bookstore.

Special glasses that comply with the ISO 12312-2 international standard — such as the ones provided by the College — are needed to view the sun during the partial eclipse phase before and after totality, according to NASA. It is safe to view an eclipse directly only when the moon completely obscures the sun.

In Mount Vernon, the play-based learning space SPI — which operates out of Kenyon’s Wright Center — is hosting an event at Ariel-Foundation Park featuring live music, science demonstrations and more. And in Fredericktown, the library has planned an event with food trucks, activities and more. Public spaces, such as Wolf Run Regional Park, also are good viewing locations.

Knox County officials are expecting a heavy influx of visitors for the eclipse — some previous sites in the path of totality have doubled their populations for the occasion — and encourage residents to stay put if they can. “If you don’t have to go out, don’t go out that day,” said Amy Seward, Knox County Emergency Management Agency deputy director.

For commuters, the morning drive may be fairly normal, but traffic in the afternoon could be gridlocked, especially headed south and towards Columbus as visitors leave the path of totality. Seward suggests avoiding travel through Mount Vernon and on Interstate 71. Alternative routes include U.S. Route 62 and back roads. For live traffic updates, try the Ohio Department of Transportation’s OHGO app.

A few places at Kenyon will experience a total eclipse around 3:13 p.m., but only very briefly. Most of campus is located just outside the edge of what is known as the path of totality, which in Ohio extends diagonally from the Dayton area up to Cleveland. 

The Franklin Miller Observatory, where totality should last about 30 seconds, should be one of the best places to view the astronomical event on campus. The Brown Family Environmental Center, which will briefly experience totality, is welcoming guests for an event from 1:30-5 p.m.  

Most of campus, though, will have to settle for a partial eclipse, which will be visible beginning around 2 p.m. and conclude about 4:30 p.m.

During totality, the sun is completely covered by the moon, whose umbral shadow darkens the Earth. As the shadow crosses North America this year, observers in some places will be able to experience totality for up to four and a half minutes. NASA says that the air temperature will drop during this time, nocturnal animals may wake up, and it may be possible to see a 360-degree sunset as well as some particularly bright stars or planets in the darkened sky. Areas of campus where there is only a partial eclipse will still have nearly all of the sun covered and will experience some dimness but not the full effect.


Related Events

Viewing and Celebration at the BFEC

The Brown Family Environmental Center, which is located in the path of totality, will guests for eclipse observation from 1:30 - 5 p.m. Eclipse glasses will be provided and other activities will include live streaming of the eclipse across the U.S.; yoga sessions; yard games; data collecting; and solar/lunar crafting. Guests are encouraged to bring something to sit on, snacks, water and bug repellent.

Physics Alumni Reunion

Physics alumni will gather in Gambier April 6 - 7 to celebrate Kenyon physics with alumni talks, research posters, meals together and all manner of other fun things. As an astronomical bonus, anyone who can extend their stay to include Monday, April 8, can join an excursion to experience the total solar eclipse occurring around 3:13 p.m.