Kent prepares celebrations and education for the April 2024 total solar eclipse

Photo by Karl Magnuson

Kent is getting ready to party like it’s 2024.

That’s because this is the year the city will be in the path of totality during the solar eclipse, which will occur on the afternoon of Monday, April 8. Totality, or a total solar eclipse, is when the moon passes directly between the earth and sun in relation to specific points on earth’s surface, completely blocking out the sun. Most of Ohio will be in totality during the 2024 eclipse.

Kent will be wrapped in total darkness for nearly three minutes beginning at approximately 3:14 p.m. April 8 — and it will be a once-in-a-lifetime event for most of us. Ohio has not experienced a total solar eclipse since 1806, and Northeast Ohio won’t see another one until 2099.

To celebrate this rare and spectacular cosmic blackout, the City of Kent is throwing a four-day celestial celebration called “Kent Total Eclipse 2024” from April 5 to April 8. Events will include interactive NASA Citizen Science projects, educational talks, eclipse-inspired art displays, science workshops, a laser light show, live music, awe-inspiring planetarium shows, a 5K run, and best viewing places.

Community partners, including the City of Kent, Main Street Kent, the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, Destination Kent CVB, the Kent Free Library, Kent State University, Kent Parks & Recreation, the Kent State University Hotel & Conference Center and local business owners, have been collaborating for several months to organize eclipse festivities.

Here’s what they’ve got planned so far:


  • 4th Annual MSK 5K — Eclipse Edition: 9 a.m. to noon, race begins and ends at North Water Brewing, 101 Crain Ave. Participants will receive a race bib, commemorative beer glass, beer or non-alcoholic beverage, MSK 5K/Eclipse T-shirt, and a pair of eclipse glasses. Registration is $30 (must register by March 22 to receive a T-shirt).
  • Kent Free Library Activities — 10 a.m.: Welcome animal ambassadors from the Akron Zoo and learn about nocturnal animals (no registration required & open to all ages). 7:30 p.m.: The library’s StoryWalk at Al Lease Park featuring the eclipse-themed book “A Few Beautiful Minutes: Experiencing a Solar Eclipse” by Kate Allen Fox. Bring your flashlights or lanterns to guide you around the lake as you read the book together with your family in the dark. The library will provide glow-in-the-dark accessories to attendees while supplies last (no registration is required & program is aimed toward families with children in grades 5 and under).
  • Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd tribute band): Solar Eclipse Concert, The Kent Stage, 175 E. Main St.


  • Kent Free Library Activities — 1-5 p.m.: Stop by the library to meet Luna from the PBS show “Let’s Go Luna!” A representative from PBS will be available to help visitors with a craft and provide information about eclipses. Luna will also be available for photos at the top of every hour (for children of all ages).
  • Encore Laser Light Show — Come downtown for food trucks, DORA beverages (adult beverages available for outdoor consumption) and a free laser light show from 8 to 8:30 p.m. at Hometown Bank Plaza, 142 N. Water St. Road closures will ensure ample safe viewing space.


  • Kent State Eclipse Events — From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the day of the total eclipse, the university will have planetarium shows, free eclipse viewing glasses, a guest speaker and more. Find out more information and details as they become available here.

Kent Total Eclipse 2024 community collaborators are partnering with the Simons Foundation as part of its “In the Path of Totality” initiative from the foundation’s Science, Society and Culture division, which seeks to provide opportunities for people to forge a connection to science. The Simons Foundation’s mission is to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences. Since its founding in 1994 by Jim and Marilyn Simons, the foundation, with offices in New York City, has been a champion of basic science through grant funding, support for research and public engagement. They believe in asking big questions and providing sustained support to researchers working to unravel the mysteries of the universe. Through their work, they make space for scientific discovery. Go here for more information.

Funding opportunities are also being provided by the Destination Kent Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Great Lakes Science Center, The Henry V. and Frances W. Christenson Foundation, and the City of Kent Water Reclamation Division.

Communities elsewhere in Portage County are also planning special eclipse celebrations. Be sure to check The Portager for event information.


Interested in tracking the path of totality as it sweeps along a narrow track from Texas, through the Midwest and up through Maine? If so, NASA needs your help.

The Citizen Continental America Telescopic Eclipse (CATE) 2024 experiment, funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA, is placing about 40 identical telescope setups along the path of totality to be teamed by groups of community scientists.

The project is seeking teams (minimum of three people) who live along the path of totality. No science background or previous eclipse experience is needed. Teams will receive $750 for their time, and all teams will be provided with a telescope, camera, laptop, various other observing equipment, and educational materials.

The telescope, camera and computer used by each team will be kept by each community to become a free resource for anyone in the community to use.

Go here for more information and to apply.

+ posts

Tom Hardesty is a Portager sports columnist. He was formerly assistant sports editor at the Record-Courier and author of the book Glimpses of Heaven.