The total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017. Credit: James Lowenthal
University News

See the April 8 Solar Eclipse at UMass Amherst

Two on-campus gathering places, talks by astronomers and solar shades available to the public beginning at 11:30 a.m.

The College of Natural Sciences and the Department of Astronomy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are hosting a free, public gathering on April 8 to celebrate and observe the solar eclipse, which will achieve 94.6% totality in Amherst. The public is invited to meet at two campus locations—Metawampe Lawn and the UMass Sunwheel—beginning at 11:30 a.m. There will be astronomers at each location, as well as solar shades for safe viewing. Serious and lasting damage will result from looking at the sun without proper eyewear.

Total solar eclipses are among nature’s rarest spectacles. Any single spot on Earth will see a full eclipse only once every 360 years, on average. From Amherst, almost 95% of the sun will go dark on April 8, and this is the last time that a total solar eclipse will be visible from anywhere in North America until 2044. The next total solar eclipse visible from Amherst won’t occur until 2079.

The eclipse will begin at approximately 2:15 p.m. and last until approximately 4:40. The peak of the eclipse will be at 3:28 p.m. UMass astronomers will be on hand to discuss the science behind the eclipse, and UMass staff will hand out protective solar shades.

UMass Amherst has also worked with Ronald St. Amand, director of science for Springfield Public Schools and a UMass alum, to deliver 5,000 solar shades, as well as two brief educational videos, Your Eclipse Questions Answered! and Why Wear Solar Eclipse Shades?, to the district’s elementary students. 

view of campus overlooking pond
The Metawampe Lawn, situated between the Student Union, ILC and Campus Center

Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools Daniel Warwick says, “the solar eclipse on April 8 presents a remarkable opportunity for student engagement. Events like these provide invaluable educational experiences, igniting curiosity and fostering a deeper understanding of the natural world. We are grateful to UMass Amherst for their generous provision of 5,000 solar shades, enabling our students to safely witness the upcoming phenomenon.”

UMass has also donated eclipse shades to many other local public schools, including in Westfield, Northampton, Belchertown, Granby, Greenfield, Amherst, Sunderland, Deerfield and Holyoke.