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A Guide to the April 8th Solar Eclipse in Williamson County, TN

A Guide to the April 8th Solar Eclipse in Williamson County, TN

On April 8th, Middle Tennessee will be treated to a celestial event that has captivated humanity’s imagination since the dawn of time: a solar eclipse. Though not in the path of totality, Williamson County, Tennessee will experience a partial solar eclipse from about 12:44 pm. to 3:20 pm Central Time. At its peak, around 2:03 pm, approximately 95% of the sun will be covered!

While it may not be quite the experience of August 21, 2017, when Williamson County was treated to a total eclipse of the sun, in some ways the 2024 eclipse is an even bigger spectacle. This one has a broader path across more populated areas and a longer totality duration than in 2017.  

Here, we’ve provided essential tips on how to safely experience the solar eclipse in Williamson County, including protective measures to guard your eyes against the sun’s harmful rays. Plus, we’ve got the information on where you can gather together with others to learn about the solar eclipse and witness the awe-inspiring event together. 

Solar eclipse 2024 path of totality Franklin, TN.

Understanding the 2024 Solar Eclipse

Solar eclipses occur when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, casting a shadow over the Earth. While this phenomenon, where day turns momentarily into night, happens every 18 months or so somewhere on Earth, it often occurs in remote areas where few people can witness it. 

Lucky for us, the April 8th, 2024 solar eclipse is happening right over North America. The path of totality— where a full eclipse of the sun can be viewed— will begin over Mexico’s Pacific coast and sweep across 15 states in the U.S., including a brief passage through the upper northwest corner of Tennessee.

The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be in 2033, with its path of totality exclusively passing through northwestern Alaska. To experience a widespread event similar to the 2024 eclipse, where millions across the U.S. can observe the phenomenon, the wait extends until 2045.

Family wearing solar eclipse glasses looking at the sky in Franklin, TN.

Safely Viewing the Eclipse in Williamson County, TN

Even when the moon obscures most of the sun, looking at it without protection can harm your eyes, potentially leading to serious damage or even blindness. It’s important to watch the eclipse using special glasses or viewing devices that are ISO Certified 12312-2

Still have your solar eclipse glasses from the 2017 total eclipse? According to the American Astronomical Society (AAS), if the glasses are ISO Certified 12312-2 and are not scratched or otherwise damaged, they are safe to use. If you are purchasing eclipse glasses, AAS provides a list of approved manufacturers and suppliers of safe solar viewers and filters.

Locally, there are a few places where you can pick up ISO Certified solar eclipse glasses, including  Lowe’s in Franklin and America’s Best Contacts and Eyeglasses. In addition, Warby Parker in Franklin is giving away free ISO Certified solar eclipse glasses while supplies last.

Or you can avoid looking at the sun altogether with a pinhole projector. Easy to make and fun for kids, pinhole projectors work by allowing light to pass through a small opening, or pinhole, to project an image of the sun onto a surface behind the opening. NASA has an easy how-to for those who want to make their own pinhole viewers.

Solar Eclipse 2024 Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory’s Pre-Eclipse Events and Resources

Dyer Observatory, located in Brentwood, Tennessee, has been offering educational outreach and public stargazing events since 1953. While the facility will be closed on April 8th to allow staff to travel to view the total eclipse, some special events are happening beforehand.

Solar Eclipse Open House – April 5th, 3 pm to 6 pm: Visit the observatory for a chance to explore, ask questions, view the Sun through a solar telescope, and collect free eclipse glasses for a safe viewing experience on April 8. This event is free, but registration is required to manage attendance.

Eclipse Glasses Drive-Through – April 5th, 12 pm to 6 pm: Swing by to pick up free eclipse glasses without leaving your car; no registration is needed but there is a limit of 5 pairs per vehicle.

Dyer also offers educational information on their website for those interested in learning more about solar eclipses. For kids, this educational flyer has information about the 2024 eclipse and fun activities.

Child with eclipse glasses at Dyer Observatory in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Where to View the Solar Eclipse in Williamson County, TN

The best locations in Williamson County to view the eclipse include open spaces away from tall buildings and trees, such as parks. For a more structured viewing experience with additional educational opportunities, the Adventure Science Center in Nashville is hosting a day filled with eclipse-related activities. Participants can create DIY pinhole solar viewers and UV bead keychains to learn about the sun’s UV rays and the importance of skin protection. The program also includes solar car races, solar art, and a live stream of the solar eclipse’s totality by NASA, viewable indoors, and an opportunity to safely observe the partial eclipse through telescopes equipped with solar filters. Get your tickets here.

The Williamson County Public Library offers another opportunity for community engagement during the solar eclipse. On April 8th from 1 pm to 3 pm, at the main library in Franklin, a local NASA Solar System Ambassador will present live and broadcast to library branches in Bethesda, College Grove, Fairview, Leiper’s Fork, and Nolensville. After the presentation, families at each location will be given one pair of solar eclipse glasses to share. In the event of cloudy weather, a NASA live feed of the eclipse will be available.

Total eclipse of the sun.

Journey to the Path of Totality

To experience the eclipse in its full glory, you’ll have to venture into the path of totality, with several destinations reachable from Williamson County within a three-hour journey. 

Parts of Kentucky and Arkansas, both bordering Tennessee, are directly in the eclipse’s trajectory. At just over two and half hours by car, Paducah, Kentucky offers a prime viewing spot. Fun Fact: Paducah, Kentucky found itself directly in the path of totality during the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, and will experience this astronomical event again in 2024, marking its second time in the path of total eclipse within 7 years!

To the west, parts of Arkansas, including Jonesboro, will also be in the path of totality.  

If you do decide to make a day trip to view the total eclipse, expect lots of traffic as others will also be traveling to witness this event.

Click here for NASA’s interactive map, where you can track the path of totality and see exactly what to expect where you live.

Solar eclipse 2024

Safely Experience the 2024 Solar Eclipse in Williamson County, TN

The solar eclipse of 2024, although not a total eclipse like in 2017, will still cover about 95% of the sun at its peak and offer a unique opportunity for observation. Remember: Never look directly at the sun.  Make sure your eyes are protected with ISO Certified 12312-2 eclipse glasses or use a DIY pinhole projector for safe viewing. 

For those looking to fully experience the eclipse, remember to check local weather forecasts to ensure clear skies. Whether you’re observing from Williamson County or planning a trip to the path of totality, keeping an eye on the weather will help you make the most of this event. The next chance to see a total solar eclipse in the contiguous U.S. will not be until 2045, so don’t miss this opportunity!