MTSU Astronomers to Open Observatory for Solar Eclipse

A Middle Tennessee State University Department of Physics and Astronomy faculty member will open the MTSU Observatory for two hours during the 2024 solar eclipse Monday, April 8.

MTSU Observatory
The Middle Tennessee State University Observatory next to Wiser-Patten Science Hall on campus in Murfreesboro, Tenn., will be open, weather permitting from 12:45 to 2:45 p.m. Monday, April 8, for a solar eclipse that will bring 93% totality to the area. (MTSU file photo by Kimi Conro)

Professor Eric Klumpe said the observatory near Wiser-Patten Science Hall will be open from 12:45 to 2:45 p.m., weather permitting, for the eclipse. Scientists said Murfreesboro will have 93% totality compared to 100% totality hundreds of miles away, covering states from Texas to Maine.

People are welcome to come to campus with lawn chairs to witness the rare, natural phenomenon, department officials said. The Physics and Astronomy Department will provide eclipse glasses or people can bring their own protective eyewear. The observatory telescope has protective filters.

John Hall, assistant manager with MTSU Parking Services, said parking will be available in the Rutherford Lot without permits on a first-come, first-served basis, with bus transportation available.

2017 total solar eclipse at MTSU
The total solar eclipse in August 2017 brought thousands of visitors to the Middle Tennessee State University campus. People will have to travel out of state to see the April 8 total solar eclipse. Weather permitting, the MTSU Observatory will be open from 12:45 to 2:45 Monday, April 8, for the partial solar eclipse (93%) Murfreesboro residents will see. (MTSU file photo by Eric Sutton)

All other visitors are requested to use parking meters or obtain a permit from the Parking and Transportation Services office at 205 City View Drive or print a visitor pass at ;visitor permits are $2 per day.

“This is a very small event when compared to 2017,” Klumpe said, referring to the 100% totality that year in Murfreesboro and the university hosting an event attracting thousands of visitors to campus. “It will be just me and a few students on the lawn by the observatory. There will no stage with a loudspeaker. The observatory will be open and I will be tracking the eclipse live, using the MTSU observatory.”

Klumpe said the partial eclipse starts at 12:44 p.m. and ends at 3:20 p.m. for Murfreesboro residents. Maximum darkness occurs at 2:01 p.m.

If weather conditions permit, Klumpe and some MTSU Astronomy Club students will be available to answer questions.

“If there is bad weather, I will be inside Wiser-Patton Science Hall teaching the class I have that meets at exactly the same time as the eclipse,” Klumpe said. “I suspect the area around the observatory will look the same as it always does on a rainy or cloudy day with the observatory closed up — abandoned.”

He said some faculty colleagues will be out of town, at locations in the path of totality.

The next North American total solar eclipse that will be viewable by a fairly large number of people will not happen until Aug. 23, 2044. There will be one in 2033, but only Alaska residents will get the chance to see that one.

For more information, call 615-898-2130.

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