Where You Can See More Celestial Sights

Feeling inspired by the 2024 Solar Eclipse? Same! We found a few places in Cincinnati and beyond where you can get your stargazing on.
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Photograph by Sarah McCosham

The phrase “once in a lifetime” is used to describe all sorts of events and experiences, many of which are not, in fact, once in a lifetime. But the 2024 solar eclipse in Ohio? This event truly is worthy of such a superlative.

On Monday, April 8, 2024, my crew and I piled into the car and headed to Brookville, Indiana, to have the aforementioned once-in-a-lifetime experience together. A total solar eclipse happens when the moon appears the same size (or slightly larger) in the sky as the sun, with the former fully covering the disk of the latter. This fleeting “marriage” of sun and moon gives observers a view of the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona. As with any celestial event, timing is everything, and the stars must be perfectly aligned. This year’s event marks the first total solar eclipse over Ohio in more than 200 years. (For reference, only 43 million people—0.5 percent of the world’s population—live in what is known as the path of totality, so we’re quite lucky here in our little corner of the country!)

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

We picked up our official, ISO-rated solar eclipse glasses from one of the Great Parks of Hamilton County and drove west to my in-laws’ lake house in Brookville, Indiana, to experience 100 percent totality. I humored my husband by letting him flex his Dad Rock/Coding Nerd muscles by timing the eclipse to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon using the handy-dandy calculator he and his brother created.

As the music swelled, the skies began darkening. It happened so quickly—one moment, we were looking up at a crescent sun with our eclipse glasses; the next, our glasses were off and the skies were the cotton candy colors of dusk, with our bright star completely covered.

I don’t have pictures of the event itself—not physical snaps, anyways. What I do have is a special memory imprinted in my mind that I will carry with me forever. And I’ll have to—the next time a total solar eclipse will be visible in Ohio is 2099, which likely will be beyond my time here on Earth. While this might make some a bit sad, I’m choosing to focus on the fact that I’m here, I experienced something marvelous with my kids, and while the 2024 eclipse might be behind us, the world is so full of opportunities to experience awe and wonder; even through small, seemingly unremarkable mini adventures.

Speaking of which, if this year’s event has stoked your wanderlust for all things celestial and cosmic (same!), you’re in luck. Our very own Cincinnati Observatory Center is a world-renowned place to immerse yourself in the wide, wonderful galaxy that’s ours.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

If you’re up for a quick trip, the John Glenn Astronomy Park is a Hocking Hills treasure that gives Ohio explorers the perfect place to stargaze. This hidden gem in Ohio opened just a few years ago, and, with little in the way of light pollution, this astronomy park provides extraordinary views of the Milky Way Galaxy, nearby planets, and other outer space marvels.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

Speaking of marvels…the Perseids on August 12 are not to be missed, and Stonelick State Park is the place to experience this stellar show. Admission is free and the park’s open year-round; on Saturday evenings before and after each new moon, astronomers set up a variety of telescopes and invite everyone to view the wonders of the sky.

Finally, did you know the Northern Lights might be visible in Ohio this year? According to forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, solar activity is expected to increase more quickly and peak at a higher level this year than previously predicted. Forecasters believe Solar Cycle 25, the current solar cycle, will peak between January and October, reaching a maximum activity level in July. My suggestion? Plan a summer road trip up to Cuyahoga Valley National Park—the skies above it are the perfect stage for this dazzling light show.

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