2024 Solar Eclipse FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about the April 2024 solar eclipse


When is the eclipse? Where can I see the eclipse?

The eclipse takes place on April 8th, 2024. The exact time at which it occurs depends on your location. In Williamstown the eclipse will begin, with the first small part of the moon crossing in front of the Sun, at 2:13 pm. The maximum coverage of the Sun by the moon will occur at 3:27 pm, and the eclipse will end at 4:37 pm.

Williamstown is not in the path of totality, which means that the Moon will not completely cover the Sun. The maximum covered will be 96% as seen from Williamstown. While this will produce a noticeable effect, it will not be anywhere near as dramatic as a total solar eclipse. To find the nearest location where the total eclipse is visible, check a map of the path of totality, such as the one available at https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/april-8-2024. Note that many people will travel to the path of totality. Plan ahead! Many, if not all, hotels will be booked many months in advance. If you are driving into the path of totality on the day of the eclipse, plan for the drive to and from the eclipse to take much, much longer than normal, as substantial traffic builds up before and (especially) after the eclipse.


How can I safely view the eclipse?

It is not safe to look directly at the Sun without protective eyewear! Outside of totality you must use protective eyewear, or look through a telescope with a proper solar filter. During totality, when the moon has completely covered the Sun, it is safe to look at the eclipse without protective eyewear.


Where can I get solar eclipse glasses? 

Thanks to a grant from the Williamstown Community Foundation Fund, funds from Williams College, and support from the National Science Foundation, we have a limited number of solar eclipse glasses available. The bulk will be distributed to local schools, while the rest will be available to members of the Williams College community (students, staff, and faculty). If you would like to request a pair, contact Dr. Kevin Flaherty.


But what if I just live in Williamstown? Can I still get eclipse glasses?

Unfortunately we don’t have enough eclipse glasses for everyone in the community, but the Milne public library does have some available. If you would like to purchase your own solar eclipse glasses, check out the guide from the American Astronomical Society about safely viewing the eclipse, and where to purchase eclipse glasses.


Is Williams College doing anything for the eclipse?

Depending on the weather, we are planning to provide live-streaming of totality, and solar telescopes for safe viewing of the Sun, from on-campus. This will take place at our historic Hopkins Observatory, with live-streaming inside of the observatory, and solar telescopes available outside of the observatory. Visitors will also be able to browse our collection of historic solar eclipse viewers within the observatory. This event will take place between 2 and 5 pm on April 8th. Parking is very limited by the observatory. Larger parking lots are across Rt 2, behind the Thompson Memorial Chapel and Sawyer Library.


At 10 pm on April 8th we will be hosting a Lights Out event on the science quad, in which we turn off the outside lights for 30 minutes to experience an un-obstructed view of the night sky, and to demonstrate how our view of the night sky is affected by street lights.


What about alumni? Are they doing anything for the eclipse?

Many of our alumni live along the path of totality, or are traveling to the path of totality. We have created a map of where our alumni are located, a paper version of which is visible on the second floor of TPL. If you are an alumni, or otherwise affiliated with the college, and would like to be added to the map, contact Dr. Kevin Flaherty.


Where can I find an eclipse event near me?

The following webpages will collect information about various eclipse activities across the country. Use them to search for any events in your area on the day of the eclipse, or leading up to the eclipse:


Will it be clear on the day of the eclipse?

April in New England is not the best for clear skies, but there is still a chance. Check your local forecast before traveling to the eclipse for last-minute updates. Windy.com provides some of the best cloud forecasts.


What do I do with eclipse glasses now that the eclipse has passed?

Don’t throw them away! The astronomy program at Williams will collect eclipse glasses, which we will send to Astronomy without Borders, who in turn will redistribute the glasses to communities that otherwise could not afford them. Glasses can be dropped off at astronomy offices in TPL, or at boxes in Sawyer, Hollander, Schapiro, or Wachenheim. 


How can I find out more about the eclipse?

The following webpages contain more information about the eclipse: