Observing the 2024 Eclipse at Discovery Park of America: How Dark Will It Get?

During the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, the “path of totality” will span across North America. It will begin in Mexico and then pass through several states in the United States before crossing into eastern Canada. The 2024 Eclipse, while not a total eclipse at Discovery Park in Union City, Tennessee, promises an intriguing glimpse into a rare celestial occurrence.

What to Expect at 99.2% Coverage: Guests will experience games on the front lawn, activities like the Epic Eclipse Race, a hands-on STEAM challenge, and members of the education team sharing fun and fascinating facts about the sky above us. And when the time comes, children and adults attending will have the opportunity to witness approximately 99.2% coverage of the sun. While this partial eclipse won’t result in complete darkness or the dramatic appearance of the sun’s corona like it will in areas in the path of totality, it will offer a noteworthy sight. You can anticipate a subtle darkening of the sky, akin to a very cloudy day or late winter afternoon, as the moon partially obscures the sun. Shadows may appear slightly sharper, and there might be a slight drop in temperature, creating a unique atmosphere for observation.

Understanding Eclipses: Eclipses have long intrigued humanity, blending science with myth and folklore. These events occur when the alignment of the sun, moon, and Earth results in a shadow being cast on one celestial body by another. During a solar eclipse, the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, partially blocking our view of the sun—a phenomenon that continues to captivate and inspire curiosity.

Fascinating Facts:

  • Total solar eclipses, where the sun is completely obscured, are infrequent occurrences, happening somewhere on Earth approximately every 18 months.
  • The 2024 eclipse is part of the Saros cycle, a pattern of eclipses that repeats roughly every 18 years and 11 days.
  • While the path of totality for this eclipse won’t cross directly over Discovery Park, it will offer a significant partial eclipse experience.
  • During the partial eclipse, observers may notice a subtle dimming of sunlight, changes in temperature, and unique crescent-shaped shadows cast by objects on the ground.
  • The only safe way to look directly at the sun during an eclipse is through special-purpose solar filters, like eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers. Discovery Park will have a limited number of glasses for sale in the gift shop, and you can preorder in advance here.

Also at Discovery Park:

Science and Space Gallery: Guests who visit the space and science-related gallery weave their way through the universe, starting on planet Earth and then venturing through the solar system, the galaxy, and then beyond. Data and imagery presented in these exhibits are taken almost exclusively from NASA sources. While an asteroid that enters Earth’s atmosphere is often called a “shooting star,” it’s actually a meteor. The pieces that do not burn up but hit the ground intact are called meteorites. The iron-nickel meteorite on display at Discovery Park fell to Earth in Nantan County, Guangxi, China in 1516 and weighs 661 lbs. This specimen was discovered along with others in 1958 when a field strewn with “iron rocks” was discovered by farmers looking for iron ore to make steel. When these heavy, iron-rich rocks wouldn’t melt, further investigation showed them to be iron meteorites.

STEM Landing: STEM Landing features a showcase of great STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) achievements. This area encourages guests of all ages to explore the different ways that STEM principles help shape our world. You will find a collection of NASA mission patches inside the geodesic dome, as well as an orbiter and other space-related artifacts. Then, you can walk outside and see an F-84 Jet and a Blue Angels plane on display, as well as a 110-foot Titan I missile donated by NASA.

As we prepare to observe the 2024 eclipse, let us embrace the wonder of the natural world and the mysteries of our solar system. Discovery Park invites you to join us on April 8 for this celestial event. While it may not bring total darkness or the breathtaking views of a total eclipse, the partial eclipse promises a fascinating and memorable experience with convenient parking along with easy access to food and beverage and restroom facilities.

Find out more at discoveryparkofamerica.com/solar.