MTSU Astronomers to Open Observatory April 8 for Eclipse / Rutherford Co. Schools Closed and Murfreesboro City Schools Open for Eclipse

Apr 01, 2024 at 06:19 pm by WGNS News

Click to see more photos of the past eclipse in 2017.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — A Middle Tennessee State University Department of Physics and Astronomy faculty member will open the MTSU Observatory for two hours during the 2024 solar eclipse Monday, April 8.

Professor Eric Klumpe said the observatory near Wiser-Patten Science Hall will be open from 12:45 to 2:45 p.m., weather permitting, for the eclipse. Scientists said Murfreesboro will have 93% totality compared to 100% totality hundreds of miles away, covering states from Texas to Maine.


People are welcome to come to campus with lawn chairs to witness the rare, natural phenomenon, department officials said. The Physics and Astronomy Department will provide eclipse glasses or people can bring their own protective eyewear. The observatory telescope has protective filters.

“This is a very small event when compared to 2017,” Klumpe said, referring to the 100% totality that year in Murfreesboro and the university hosting an event attracting thousands of visitors to campus. “It will be just me and a few students on the lawn by the observatory. There will no stage with a loudspeaker. The observatory will be open and I will be tracking the eclipse live, using the MTSU observatory.”

Klumpe said the partial eclipse starts at 12:44 p.m. and ends at 3:20 p.m. for Murfreesboro residents. Maximum darkness occurs at 2:01 p.m. If weather conditions permit, Klumpe and some MTSU Astronomy Club students will be available to answer questions.

“If there is bad weather, I will be inside Wiser-Patton Science Hall teaching the class I have that meets at exactly the same time as the eclipse,” Klumpe said. “I suspect the area around the observatory will look the same as it always does on a rainy or cloudy day with the observatory closed up — abandoned.” He said some faculty colleagues will be out of town, at locations in the path of totality.

County Schools Closed for Eclipse: As previously reported, the Rutherford County Schools have received approval from the state to utilize one of their inclement weather days for the upcoming eclipse. Consequently, the county schools will be closed on April 8th, allowing students to witness the event from home with their families.

Prior to making the decision to close this upcoming Monday, Director of Schools Dr. Jimmy Sullivan stated that they explored several options and believe using a stockpile day is the best idea for the safety of the children.

While our area won't be in the path of totality like the 2017 eclipse, it will be about 94 percent visible, and safety glasses will be necessary to view it.

Sullivan mentions that timing is the primary reason, as the eclipse will begin around 12:45 pm and continue until nearly 3:30 pm. During that time, most of the schools would be in dismissal for the majority of the elementary and middle schools.

The county schools will be left with two stockpile days for the year after using one for the eclipse.

Murfreesboro City Schools Open for Eclipse: On April 8th, all Murfreesboro City Schools will be in session, offering students a fantastic educational experience during the partial eclipse. The City Schools Foundation recently showed city educators their support by purchasing solar eclipse glasses for city school students. Between now and Monday, teachers are gearing up for a day full of wonder and discovery.



The next North American total solar eclipse that will be viewable by a fairly large number of people will not happen until Aug. 23, 2044. There will be one in 2033, but only Alaska residents will get the chance to see that one.

VISITING MTSU CAMPUS: John Hall, assistant manager with MTSU Parking Services, said parking will be available in the Rutherford Lot without permits on a first-come, first-served basis, with bus transportation available. All other visitors are requested to use parking meters or obtain a permit from the Parking and Transportation Services office at 205 City View Drive or print a visitor pass at ;visitor permits are $2 per day.

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