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9 things to expect during the April 8 solar eclipse in Ohio

An image of a Total Solar Eclipse. Pictured is a black sphere with a white glow around it against a black background.
NASA/Carla Thomas/(NASA/Carla Thomas )
(NASA/Carla Thomas )
2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Many parts of Ohio will experience a solar eclipse on April 8. And it’s been a little over a century since Ohioans have observed an eclipse like this. As people prepare to view this once-in-a-lifetime event, local and national experts have some insight for Ohioans — or anyone interested in viewing the eclipse in the state — on what they can expect.

1. It will become dark.
The darkness will come on for the duration the moon is covering the sun, which should last between two to four minutes depending on what part of the state you’re in. Montana State physics professor and NASA collaborator Angela Des Jardins said this will come on quite quickly.

However, this is only true for those in the path of totality, in which the sun will be completely covered.

“Even 99% covered, that little portion of the sun is still so bright. It won't actually get completely dark,” she said.

She said the corona (the outermost part of the sun’s atmosphere) will only be visible for those in the path of totality.

2. The eclipse is more of a process than an immediate thing.
While the darkness brought on by the eclipse will happen pretty quickly, the whole process of the moon reaching alignment with the sun will take about 2½ hours.

During that time, the temperature can drop by roughly 10 degrees and the winds may change, Des Jardins said.

3. A lot of people are expected to come to the state to view it. 
Larry Cleek works with Dayton-Montgomery County Public Health as the emergency preparedness manager. Dayton and Montgomery County are both in the path of totality, so he said the department’s been using the 2017 total eclipse in other parts of the U.S. as a frame of reference for their planning.

For example, Wyoming, which was within the path of totality during the 2017 eclipse, saw its population double, going from 600,000 residents to 1.2 million people in the state during the eclipse, according to Cleek.

In Ohio, the range of visitors could be anywhere from 125,000 to 575,000, Cleek said.

“There's actually eclipse chasers, where you have people from all over the U.S. and all over the world that come to experience these events,” Cleek said.

4. Traffic will most likely be heavy.
With so many anticipated visitors coming and going to viewing areas across the state, motorists can expect delayed travel times on April 8.

“If you are out and about, I can't stress it enough, you're not going to get anywhere in a hurry,” Cleek said. “With the 2017 eclipse, basically everywhere there was totality, immediately after it was over, Google Maps went red on every interstate.”

This could also make it difficult for first responders to reach people, he said. Cleek recommended making sure your gas tank is full one to two days before, and to pack some snacks, water and a portable phone charger in case you find yourself stuck in traffic for a long time.

5. Cell phone and internet service might be faulty.
During the 2017 eclipse event, internet and cell phone users saw their service greatly slowed due to the number of devices in use, Cleek said.

He said people should consider giving family and friends an advance notice of where you’ll be during the event in case you can’t reach them right away.

6. If it’s cloudy, the eclipse might not be viewable. 
Des Jardins said it’s possible the eclipsed sun might not be visible if the weather isn’t cooperating.

“Obviously the best situation is if there are clouds, that they are moving across quickly so that there's some opportunity to see the eclipse,” she said.

7. Solar flares could be visible.
Solar flares are large eruptions of electromagnetic radiation from the sun.

Des Jardins is the principal investigator of the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project, where she coordinates students across the country to fly stratospheric research balloons and record observations about solar eclipses.

She said this eclipse will have some other exciting features to witness because we’re near solar maximum, which is the peak of activity on the sun.

“All the time, solar flares erupt from the sun. Often, those are accompanied by things called coronal mass ejections, where huge amounts of material are spewed out from the sun,” Des Jardins said. “This happens all the time, but it happens more often during solar maximum. And when we have an eclipse, we can see the eruptions that are happening from the sun here on Earth.”

She said these should be visible from the corona.

8. If you look at the sun at any point besides the totality of the eclipse, it could damage your eyes.
Both Cleek and Des Jardins advise people to use eclipse viewing glasses. These are special glasses with solar filters that should meet international standard ISO 12312-2 for safe viewing.

And regular sunglasses won't suffice. Certified eclipse viewers are thousands of times darker than regular sunglasses, according to NASA.

During totality is the only time it’s OK to take off your eclipse viewing glasses and view the event, Des Jardins said. There are methods to check how much the sun is eclipsed without looking directly at it, she said, such as using a colander or intertwining your fingers.

“Just let the sun shine through them onto the ground, and it'll make little eclipses on the ground,” she said.

9. Animals and insects might start reacting.
The darkness can confuse some critters into thinking it’s nighttime, and they might act accordingly.

For example, crickets might start chirping. Roosters might start crowing once the sun’s back out.

That’s what makes the solar eclipse a multi-sensory experience, Des Jardins said. But humans are also animals, so it’s important to be mindful of your own experience.

“The totality during eclipses, even if you can't see the sun, is something that tends to have a really spiritual or deep impact on people,” she said. “So it's definitely something to notice your own reaction. Notice the reaction of your friends and family around you.”

Adriana Martinez-Smiley (she/they) is the Environment and Indigenous Affairs Reporter for WYSO. They grew up in Hamilton, Ohio and graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in June 2023. Before joining WYSO, her work has been featured in NHPR, WBEZ and WTTW.

Email: amartinez-smiley@wyso.org
Cell phone: 937-342-2905
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