Skip to main content

2024 Solar Eclipse

About Solar Eclipses

Solar Eclipse Diagram
(Not to scale)

Simply put, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun when all three bodies are in a perfectly straight line. Earth is special in that our moon and our star (the Sun) are about the same apparent size in the sky. This means that when the orbits line up just right, our Moon can perfectly block the face of the Sun, creating darkness during the day and revealing the spectacular crown-like outer atmosphere of the Sun known as the "corona."

In Virginia, we will experience a partial solar eclipse. This means that we will not see the sun completely obscured. Instead, we will experience roughly 86% coverage. For folks travelling to the "area of totality," they will experience 100% coverage; a total solar eclipse. On average, a single location on Earth experiences totality every 400 years, so this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for North American astronomy enthusiasts.

Charlottesville Eclipse


Where & When: The Solar Eclipse in Charlottesville


Unlike nighttime astronomical events where you need a dark sky for optimal viewing capabilities, the solar eclipse can be viewed anywhere with an unobstructed view. Assuming the skies will be clear, you will have the same viewing experience regardless of your location in Charlottesville. In other words, you will have the same experience whether you are in a rural area or the city. The most you will likely need to consider are obstructions to your view (trees, buildings, etc.)


Charlottesville and the surrounding areas will experience the eclipse from 2:00 PM to 4:30 PM, with maximum coverage reached at 3:17 PM. 

Do's and Don'ts

Safety should be your top priority when viewing the eclipse. That includes eye protection, bodily safety, and environmental awareness.

Eclipse checklistDO

Make a plan. Don't wait until the last minute to decide where to go or what to do. Being prepared is the first step to having a safe and fun experience.

Be prepared. If you plan to be outside for long periods of time, pack accordingly. That might include food, water, weather protection, portable chargers, comfortable shoes, etc.

Talk to your kids about safe viewing. Just as the sun can damage your eyes without the proper viewing tools, your kids eyes are also vulnerable to damage. Learn more about safely viewing the eclipse with your kids here.

Document your experience! Take photos of yourself, family, and friends during your viewing experience. 


Look at the sun without protection during any stage of the eclipse. This means from 2:00 PM to 4:30 PM in Charlottesville, use your protective gear.

Look at the sun through a telescope lens, camera, binoculars, transparencies, sunglasses, or anything other than certified protective gear.

Stop along the road during the eclipse. Various travel agencies have warned about the potential for increased traffic and accidents, and stopping along the road will exacerbate congestion.

Trespass to see the eclipse. Continue to respect private property laws.


Expand content
Expand content

Does the Astronomy Department have eclipse glasses for the public to use?

No. We are not selling or giving glasses away before or during the eclipse.

Expand content

Where can I go in Charlottesville to view the eclipse?

The Astronomy Department will be hosting viewing events on the UVA Lawn and at McCormick Observatory. At both locations, astronomers will be present with safety glasses and telescopes. These events are free and open to all. Viewing equipment is limited, so we encourage folks to bring their own.

Expand content

Can I go to different places in Charlottesville to get a better view of the eclipse?

In short, no. Viewing conditions will be the same across the city of Charlottesville.

Expand content

Will areas around Charlottesville have different maximum coverage?

Yes, but they won't be noticeable differences. It will differ by fractions of a percent:

Charlottesville: 86.4%
Ruckersville: 86.6%
Crozet: 86.9%
Lake Monticello: 85.8%
Waynesboro: 87.2%
Staunton: 87.8%

Expand content

Can I look at the sun without safety equipment?

NO. Looking at the eclipse without protection will cause instant, severe, permanent damage to your eyes. Do not look at the sun during the eclipse without using a viewer.

Expand content

How do I know if my eclipse glasses are safe to use?

Safety is the top priority when viewing the eclipse. Looking at the eclipse without protection will cause instant, severe, permanent damage to your eyes. NASA has a full page dedicated to education and safety during the eclipse. The American Astronomical Society details how to judge the safety of your solar eclipse glasses. In short, the magic number is ISO 12312-2.

Expand content

Will going to a higher elevation give me a better viewing experience?

No. Prioritize an unobstructed view instead of a higher elevation.

Solar eclipse map


Department Events

UVA Astronomy Club @ South Lawn

WHO: UVA Astronomy Club
WHAT: Viewing party
WHERE: UVA South Lawn, near Homer Statue
WHEN: 4/8/2024, 1:30-4:30PM

All are welcome to join the Astronomy Club at the South Lawn! There will be solar viewers (Sun Spotter), eclipse glasses, and snacks! No registration is required

UVA Astronomy Department at McCormick Observatory

WHO: UVA Astronomers
WHAT: Viewing party
WHERE: McCormick Observatory (600 McCormick Rd)
WHEN: 4/8/2024, 1:30-4:30PM

All are welcome to join the Astronomy Department at the McCormick Observatory! There will be solar viewers and eye protection. The Observatory building and dome will be open for guests. Note: Guests cannot view the eclipse through the telescope. No prior registration is required.


Read More

Professor Ed Murphy: A Total Eclipse of the Sun: What You Need To Know (UVA Today)

Professor Matt Pryal: The Awe of a Total Solar Eclipse (UVA Engagement)

NASA: 2024 Total Solar Eclipse How to Safely Watch a Solar Eclipse with Children

American Astronomical Society: How Can You Tell If Your Eclipse Glasses or Handheld Solar Viewers Are Safe?

Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory: All About Solar Eclipses