2024 solar eclipse in Kent: Road closures, events and safety tips if you plan to watch

Photo of a red brick road intersection in downtown Kent. The street signs on the corner read franklin ave and Erie Street
Natalie Wolford/The Portager

The big eclipse is coming, and that means more than temporary darkness.

Anticipating tens of thousands of people to descend on Kent, city leaders are closing many downtown streets on April 7 and 8.

Kent’s “Total Eclipse 2024 Committee” petitioned city leaders for the closures, which will be effective from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. April 7 and from 3 a.m. to 10 p.m. April 8.

According to NASA, in Cleveland, the partial eclipse will begin at 1:59 p.m. April 8. Totality will begin at about 3:14 p.m., be full at almost 3:16 p.m., and end at 3:17 p.m. The partial eclipse will end at 4:29 p.m.

There will be a laser light show at 8 p.m. April 7 at the Hometown Bank Plaza, where a number of food trucks will be sited to serve what the eclipse committee on its website anticipates will be “an incredible influx of people.”

The closures will help safely accommodate large crowds that are expected to arrive in Kent to view the eclipse, the committee stated in its petition to council.

Route 43 will be closed from Portage Street on the north to Locke Lane on the south. Main Street will be closed from its intersection with Depeyster to Gougler Avenue.

Franklin Avenue will be closed at its intersection with West Erie Street, and there will be no access to Burbick Way, or East Erie Street from South Depeyster Street. South Willow Street will also be closed from Haymaker Parkway/East Main Street to East College Avenue.

Toilets and dumpsters will be set up near East College Avenue and College Court and near Burbick Way and East College.

The eclipse extravaganza actually begins April 6, with Main Street Kent hosting an Eclipse Edition 5K run and the Kent Free Library planning a number of activities. The Pink Floyd tribute band “Dark Side of the Moon” will also be performing at the Kent Stage.

Kent State University also has a number of activities planned on April 8, including a viewing party from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. at Risman Plaza. Free eclipse glasses will be available while supplies last.

Anticipating clogged roads, especially since totality is just about when many schools release their students for the day, Kent schools will be closed April 8.

Safe ways to view the eclipse

The National Park Service notes that the only safe way to view the eclipse is through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers. Solar filters should have an ISO 12312-2:2015 certification and have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product, the NPS states.

Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe. Neither are solar filters that are missing ISO certification information; that are torn, scratched, or have wrinkled lenses; that are coming loose from their frames; or that were made prior to 2015, the NPS warns.

Welding glasses, hoods or helmets are acceptable as long as the glass is labeled No. 14 or higher. If the shade number cannot be found or read, the items are unsafe, the NPS states, adding that arc welders typically use glass with a shade number much less than the No. 14 filter.

All viewers should inspect their solar filters prior to use. Before looking at the sun, they should don their eclipse glasses or hold their handheld filters to their eyes. Never remove the glasses or filters while looking at the sun; instead, physically turn away from the sun before removing the devices.

Since Kent is in the path of totality, people can remove their glasses only when the moon completely covers the sun’s face and it suddenly gets very dark. As soon as the bright sun begins to appear, people must put on their eclipse glasses again to glance at the remaining partial phases, the NPS advises.

It is never safe to look at the sun through optical devices such as cameras, binoculars or a telescope without an approved solar optical filter attached to the lens. Viewing through mylar from a balloon is also dangerous, as the coating may be semi-porous and is not designed for looking at eclipses.

Many people are familiar with the “pinhole” method of viewing eclipses, perhaps utilizing a straw hat to do so. If you choose this option, you should stand with your back to the sun and hold the hat out in front of you. Then you may safely look for shadows on the ground that will be in the shape of the sun and eclipse, the NPS advises.

Failure to follow any of the National Park Service advisories could result in damage to the viewer’s eyes, the NPS warns.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.