April 8: Solar eclipse safety and campus pause

Dear Ithaca and Geneva campus communities,

On April 8, a total solar eclipse will cross North America. A partial eclipse with a magnitude of 98.8% will be visible in Ithaca, with 100% totality occurring further north in Geneva. The university will “pause” classes and some outdoor activities between 3-4 p.m. during the deepest point of the eclipse, so that our campus communities in Ithaca and Geneva have an opportunity where possible to experience this rare occurrence, which will not happen again in the U.S. until 2044.

Geneva is in the path of totality and will experience a total solar eclipse. Partiality will begin at 2:07 p.m. on Monday, April 8, with maximum totality at 3:22 p.m. and lasting 2 minutes and 21 seconds. The eclipse will end at 4:34 p.m. in Geneva. Ithaca will see a partial solar eclipse beginning at 2:08 p.m. with maximum visibility (98.8% magnitude) at 3:23 p.m. The partial eclipse will also end at 4:34 p.m. in Ithaca.

Student and Campus Life will host an eclipse viewing party including snacks and giveaways on April 8 from 2:30 – 4 p.m. on Ho Plaza. The Center for Bright Beams will also host an event beginning at 3 p.m. on the Arts Quad. A limited number of solar viewing glasses will be available at both events, so please plan ahead.

Where a pause to operations is not feasible, individuals interested in viewing the eclipse are encouraged to connect with their supervisors to discuss stepping away for a few minutes during the viewing hour.

Viewing even a partial eclipse requires eye protection. Please be sure to use certified solar viewing glasses (“eclipse glasses”) or a safe handheld solar viewer at all times while watching the eclipse. Regular sunglasses will not protect your eyes and should not be worn during the eclipse. Avoid looking directly at the eclipse through a camera lens, telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device, even while wearing eclipse glasses, unless you have a special-purpose solar filter secured to the front of the lens. Otherwise, you may burn your eyes. NASA offers additional safety tips for viewing the eclipse. The National Science Foundation will livestream the event.

Michael Niemack, professor of physics and astronomy, and Lisa Kaltenegger, associate professor and director of the Carl Sagan Institute, share their expertise on solar eclipses and safety tips.

The Cornell University Library is hosting a solar eclipse exhibit, Solar Eclipses: From Fear to Knowledge, beginning March 27, featuring highlights from its Rare and Manuscript Collections.

We look forward to experiencing this momentous event with all of you.


Michael I. Kotlikoff

Lisa Nishii
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education