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The Great Eclipse of 2024 at the Grand Rapids Public Museum with WOOD TV8


April 1, 2024

Countdown to U.S. Total Solar Eclipse

On Monday, April 8, 2024, a portion of the United States will be treated to a rare and awe-inspiring sight. As the Sun, Moon, and Earth travel along their usual paths, they will perfectly align for just a few hours. The Moon will pass between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow and sending some cities into twilight-like darkness in the middle of the day. This is a solar eclipse!

The English word eclipse comes from the Greek word “ekleipsis” meaning “to abandon an accustomed place.” Explanations for this strange phenomenon appear in myths and legends. Stories of animals or gods swallowing the Sun can be found in several cultures around the globe.

Of course, now we know that the Sun remains in its same steadfast position, over 90 million miles from the Earth. While the Moon and Sun vary vastly in size with the Moon approximately 400 times smaller, the Sun is around the same multiple farther away from the Earth than the Moon. This is why they appear the same size in the sky and overlap so perfectly during an eclipse— something that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the solar system!

The moment of total eclipse is the only time viewers can look without protective eyewear. The view is particularly extraordinary because the Sun’s corona is visible to the naked eye. Per NASA, the Sun’s corona is the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere and is actually hotter than the Sun’s surface. Reaching out into the darkness of space, particles fly through the Sun’s magnetic fields creating streamers, loops, and plumes. These stunning wispy features, usually overpowered by the denser layers of the Sun, are spectacularly on display in a total eclipse. 

Here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we aren’t in the path of totality, but we can see as much as 94% coverage of the Sun by the Moon. That means if you’re viewing the Eclipse with us at the GRPM, you will need special eye protection to avoid permanent damage for the full length of the eclipse. You can purchase eclipse glasses for $1.75 in the GRPM’s Curiosity Shop.

The partial solar eclipse in Grand Rapids starts at about 1:55 p.m. It will achieve maximum coverage at 3:11 p.m. and end at 4:26 p.m. Depending on the weather, we can expect to see a surreal shift in the light outside and crescent-shaped shadows wherever light streams through small spaces, like through tree leaves or colanders. 

The GRPM will be hosting a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party with activities both inside and outside. Inside activities will require the purchase of a general admission ticket, and outside activities are free to the public. 

On the Blue Bridge, just outside the Museum, visitors can peer into solar telescopes with GRPM’s planetarium team members and volunteers from the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association.

Inside the Museum, visitors can watch live streams from the path of totality in the Meijer Theater with commentary from Museum staff, supported by WOOD TV8. Additionally, the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium will offer a special eclipse day schedule of shows and community partners will exhibit throughout the Museum with astronomy-themed learning activities.

Get your general admission tickets for our indoor events on April 8 today for a seamless entry to the Museum. We can’t wait to see you for this once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event.

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Late Opening Notice.

On Saturday, May 11, the Museum will open at 12 p.m. due to road closures for the Amway River Bank Run.

Early Closure Notice.

The Museum will close at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1 for Museum Adventure After Dark. Tickets are still available!