We are definitely getting close to the eclipse. There’s a lot of excitement going on about it. I hope you’ve heard it like I have. Some groups are excited to attend events. Some of my colleagues are nervous about events that they are planning. Some kids don’t know what they will see (will clouds will cover too much like they did in October?) We even know some families who are traveling this coming week to the best spots in the country to see this great eclipse. And yep, I’m a little jealous about that! Ken Brandt, our resident planetarian, will also be traveling for the eclipse, but before he goes he will make sure we’re all set here, both from a visitor and an exhibitor perspective. Below he has a few remarks to share about last minute planning for all who are excited about America’s 2024 Total Solar Eclipse. 

Take it away Ken…

So here we are, just a few days away from the last of two Solar eclipse events happening within six months. Hopefully, I can quote SpongeBob on Monday the 8th, at Noon: “I’m ready! I’m ready!”

Here’s a set of things I am still working toward completion on.  I’ll identify an item, and then describe my institution’s plan for carrying that out. Hopefully, laying out my event planning might help some of you? Let’s give it a try. 

(1) “Just the facts, ma’am.”
Do you know the ” where and when”  for this eclipse? What time is first contact, what time is local eclipse maximum, and when is it all over? How much of the Sun will be covered by the moon? All great questions and “must-knows” for this event.

I use this URL for our predictions. From this, we know the eclipse begins at 13:57 PM, reaches maximum (roughly 80% covered) at 15:14 PM and finishes around 16:27 PM. All times EDT, around Lumberton, NC. But you can use this site to find the exact information for your location too.

(2) Are your staff properly trained? What activities are you planning to do with your visitors? Are your presentations and media ready to go?
My district has canceled all after school activities until 4 pm, and is requiring parents sign permission slips for children to view the eclipse while in school. Timing wise, this eclipse is horrifically placed at the end of the first day back from break for school children throughout NC. Fortunately, I don’t have power over these sorts of things, and the eclipse will go down as predicted, whether my administration likes it or not.

Remember the live streams! These are especially useful for those in classrooms unable to venture outside.

  1. From the Exploratorium.org, in San Francisco: https://www.youtube.com/@exploratorium

The eclipse stream will be top link on this page April 8th.

  1. From NASA.gov, Goddard Space Flight Center, MD: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=nasa+channel

The eclipse stream will be the top link on this page April 8th.

  1. From Griffith Observatory, in Los Angeles: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=griffith+observatory

The eclipse stream will be the top link on this page April 8th.

     Since they’re not all broadcasting from the same location, the livestream you select may require some previewing.

3. What are you doing to market your event?
I’ve been writing a series of articles for the Robesonian about the eclipse, with the last one coming out on the Saturday prior to the event, April 6th.  PSRC’s public relations officer is on top of this one, with every third day posting on social media, and all-calls to all students and staff about the event. She’s posted it on X, meta, as well as the weekly newsletter that also goes out to all staff and parents.

4. Do you have a plan in place for cancellation?
While Amy Sayle advises against checking the forecast too soon, I’ve been watching 10-day predictions for several days, with no hint of really bad weather, so far.

My hope for all of us is that our events go well, and we create some new community connections. Our only local event is being done by Robeson C.C. Instructor Dave Gavasci.

This is the last of our “eclipse troika”, which began with a great total eclipse in the western part of NC, August 21, 2017, and concludes with an excellent partial April 8th, 2024. For me as a science teacher, this has been a great ride, and I will miss the hoopla of it all  Don’t put eclipses too far onto the back burner though. We will get another one in our part of the USA on Saturday, August 12, 2045; it will be another deep partial, with roughly 80% coverage. Gainesville, Florida is lined up well for this one, which will feature a whopping 5 minutes of totality! I expect that the Swamp (UF’s football stadium) will be full on that day!

Last piece of advice from me today: Get your happy butt into the path of totality, by hook or by crook. This is one of those moments where you seize the day, if you are able. That’s where I’ll be, of course – gazing skyward from the Republic of Texas, squarely in the center of the path of totality.


Ken Brandt directs the Robeson Planetarium and Science Center in Lumberton, NC.  He is a volunteer in NASA’s Solar System Ambassador Program. He is also a member of the 3rd cohort of NC Space Grant Ambassadors, and an Ambassador for the Mars Society.