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How people across the U.S. are making the most of the solar eclipse

Round Rock Public Library in Round Rock, Texas, used disco balls to project the annular eclipse of October 2023, and recommends people try it for themselves on Monday. This one projected images across the garden, through the windows and onto the walls and ceiling of the 2nd floor.
Andrea Warkentin
Round Rock Public Library in Round Rock, Texas, used disco balls to project the annular eclipse of October 2023, and recommends people try it for themselves on Monday. This one projected images across the garden, through the windows and onto the walls and ceiling of the 2nd floor.

Updated April 7, 2024 at 9:25 AM ET

A total solar eclipse will cross North America on Monday, giving millions of people from Texas to Maine the chance to see the moon completely block the face of the daytime sun.

And many more outside the 100-mile-wide "path of totality" — every U.S. state, according to NASA — will still see a partial eclipse, in which the moon blocks at least some of the sun.

Scores of Americans are making special plans for the day, from flying across the country to driving across town, ready to don their requisite glasses, look up at the sky and admire a phenomenon the U.S. won't see again for another 20 years.

NPR asked listeners to share their plans for the day, and followed up with several of the more than 300 who responded.

Here are some of their stories, from the New York parents-to-be planning a themed baby shower to a Texas librarian setting up disco balls to the Michigan mayor waving tourists away.

A farmer will be giving out two kinds of glasses at his brewery

Tom Barse, owner of Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm in Mount Airy, Md., pictured with some of his sheep earlier this month. The brewery is holding its second eclipse viewing event on Monday.
/ Tom Barse
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Tom Barse
Tom Barse, owner of Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm in Mount Airy, Md., pictured with some of his sheep earlier this month. The brewery is holding its second eclipse viewing event on Monday.

The Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm in Mount Airy, Md., will only get about 90% coverage of the sun on Monday. But it will hold an eclipse-watching party nonetheless — and expecting a big turnout.

"You don't get the totality, but you can really notice it get darker," says owner and brewmaster Tom Barse. "It's very, very cool."

Barse, 70, is looking forward to hosting those who can't travel all the way into the path of totality. The brewery will give away free eclipse glasses (the wearing kind, not drinking) for the first 100 attendees. But it's bracing for many more.

More than 800 people are interested in the event on Facebook. More than 500 people showed up to the brewery's last eclipse event, in 2017, which Barse says they hosted "on a whim."

They're more prepared this time, bringing on extra staff and taps just for the day and expecting a high turnout regardless of the weather. Barse knows from experience that people get really excited about seeing even a partial eclipse.

"It's a phenomenal thing," he says. "It's like 2:30 in the afternoon on a Monday and people skip work and they skip school — it's like a major holiday."

A librarian recommends disco balls, citing research

Andrea Warkentin poses with a disco ball at the Round Rock Public Library in Round Rock Texas, which tested out disco balls as projection devices during an October 2023 eclipse.
/ Andrea Warkentin
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Andrea Warkentin
Andrea Warkentin poses with a disco ball at the Round Rock Public Library in Round Rock Texas, which tested out disco balls as projection devices during an October 2023 eclipse.

Andrea Warkentin, a youth services librarian at the Round Rock Public Library in Texas, is already somewhat of an eclipse-viewing expert.

Round Rock — a city about 20 miles north of Austin — had a front-row view of the annular solar eclipse that passed through Central Texas in October 2023.

At the time, Warkentin worked with a group of scientists researching a novel way of projecting the eclipse for large groups: disco balls.

"We played disco music and we had a good crowd of folks and it worked so well," says Warkentin, 57. "They were all looking at these big four-inch projections of the eclipse, all were bouncing around, swaying in the wind and on the walls of the library. It was really incredible."

Their findings were published in the Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society just last month. And Warkentin hopes others will consider using disco balls to enhance their viewing experience on Monday.

One advantage, she says, is that they allow whole groups to see the same thing at the same time (as opposed to looking through individual glasses), creating a shared experience and better conversation.

Warkentin has already set up a disco ball in the library for staffers who work that day. The library itself isn't hosting a big event: It's encouraging people to hold eclipse parties at their homes to cut down on traffic and giving out some disco balls to help.

A disco ball placed some 20 meters away outside helped project images on the Round Rock Public Library wall during the October 2023 eclipse.
/ Andrea Warkentin
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Andrea Warkentin
A disco ball placed some 20 meters away outside helped project images on the Round Rock Public Library wall during the October 2023 eclipse.

An expecting mom has much to celebrate at her eclipse-themed baby shower

Helen Hutchins will celebrate her baby shower with eclipse-themed food and décor.
/ Helen Hutchins
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Helen Hutchins
Helen Hutchins will celebrate her baby shower with eclipse-themed food and décor.

The eclipse is coming at an exciting moment for Helen Hutchins, who is expecting her first child. She knew she'd be about 33 weeks along by that point — so what better time to throw a baby shower?

"I'm super excited about the solar eclipse and want everybody to take the day off," she says.

The 31-year-old lives in Oswego, N.Y. She remembers enjoying the partial eclipse in 2017 and says she and her husband were pleasantly surprised to learn that they would be right in the path of totality this time.

"And so pairing the excitement of a child with the excitement of a solar eclipse and having it as an opportunity to loop everybody else in on my excitement for the solar eclipse, we decided to make it a solar eclipse-themed baby shower," she explains.

They will celebrate on Sunday at a nearby brewery, giving out eclipse glasses, serving half-moon cookies and moon pies and pouring "galaxy drinks." They plan to watch the eclipse on their deck with friends and family the next day.

Hutchins' baby — due at the end of May — will be 20 years old the next time the contiguous U.S. experiences a total solar eclipse.

"We'll be sure to celebrate that one too," she says. "But it'll be a ways from now."

The mayor of a well-placed Michigan town is urging tourists to go to Ohio

A view of the sunrise over Lake Erie in Luna Pier in November 2021. It's one of few places in the path of totality in Michigan.
/ Jim Gardner
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Jim Gardner
A view of the sunrise over Lake Erie in Luna Pier in November 2021. It's one of few places in the path of totality in Michigan.

Luna Pier, in the far southeast corner of Michigan, sounds like a perfect place to watch the eclipse, and not just because it's the only city in the entire state in the path of totality.

"A name like Luna Pier — I mean, this is just made for us," says Mayor Jim Gardner, 65. "We do have a pier out on Lake Erie. We were looking forward to this for so long."

The city of about 1,400 people has been getting a lot of buzz lately, with national and local press crowning it a top eclipse destination. But there's one big problem: The bridge on the only road into town over I-75 is being rebuilt and isn't set to reopen until July.

Gardner says that will make it "nearly impossible to get in and out of the city quickly."

"We're getting a lot of phone calls," Gardner says. "People are asking if the beach is open and the pier is open and it is, but we're not doing any special celebrations or advertising or parties or anything like that, sadly."

Gardner says Luna Pier, which was long financed by a now-defunct power plant, relies heavily on tourism for revenue and would absolutely capitalize on the eclipse if not for the issue of egress. But the mayor of a city just six miles from the Ohio border has found himself directing people to Toledo instead.

"We're going to get about 30 seconds of total eclipse and Toledo will get more like three minutes," he says.

Gardner expects visitors will still come to Luna Pier and says the city is taking precautions to keep people safe — calling in reserve law enforcement, bringing in portable restrooms and encouraging property owners to rent out their parking spaces.

"So I'd like to tell people to come visit us when we're open in the summer, and it'll be beautiful when this bridge is done and we can welcome everybody," Gardner says. "But it's going to get very cozy here on the eclipse day ... everyone's going to need to be patient."

The I-75 bridge in Luna Pier, Mich., a key route in and out of town, is closed for reconstruction. City officials are encouraging tourists not to come for the eclipse but bracing for traffic anyway.
/ Jim Gardner
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Jim Gardner
The I-75 bridge in Luna Pier, Mich., a key route in and out of town, is closed for reconstruction. City officials are encouraging tourists not to come for the eclipse but bracing for traffic anyway.

An outdoorsy podiatrist is leading a backpacking trip

Jake Goldstein of Overland Park, Kan., will be taking the day off from his job as a podiatrist to co-lead a backpacking trip through the Ozark mountains in Arkansas.

The 59-year-old is a longtime outdoor enthusiast who teaches a backpacking course through his local Sierra Club chapter and leads regular outings throughout the year. But this eclipse trip is extra special, he says — and not just because of the rarity of the phenomenon.

The plan is to cover about six miles a day for three days, with time carved out on Monday to hike up to a fire tower and hang out there to view the eclipse. Goldstein says the group will be about 10 people, eight participants and two co-leaders. And, unlike many other such outings, it's free of charge.

"So I feel like I'm doing a good thing and good service for the people that are interested in backpacking and seeing a unique celestial event," he says.

Goldstein also took the morning off during the 2017 eclipse and drove an hour from his office hoping to catch a good glimpse. Unfortunately, it was cloudy — and then started to rain.

"I missed it, basically," he says. "So I'm looking forward to this."

A couple of amateur astronomers will hit the road for their anniversary

Genevieve and John Goss, pictured in Dripping Springs, Texas, for the October 2023 annular eclipse.
/ Genevieve Goss
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Genevieve Goss
Genevieve and John Goss, pictured in Dripping Springs, Texas, for the October 2023 annular eclipse.

Genevieve Goss and her husband John will celebrate their 35th anniversary on Monday in the Indiana city where they married, which just so happens to be in the path of totality.

The couple will travel in advance from their home in Virginia to Bloomington, where Goss' brother lives since hotels are "impossible to find."

On the day of, they plan to make the more than 70-mile drive out to Vincennes, traffic permitting, ideally to the hilltop church where they married on April 8, 1989.

"The center line passes over where we were married," says Goss, 70. "If we can get to that spot, that would be kind of momentous."

Goss says the dual milestone is meaningful because astronomy is close to their hearts: She describes herself as an amateur astronomer and says her husband is a former president of the Astronomical League, an umbrella group of amateur astronomy societies.

The couple flew to Wyoming to see the 2017 eclipse. She says that Indiana may have more cloud cover, but tying the eclipse to their anniversary is well worth it.

"We thought about traveling other places, but no," she says. "Why not there, since that's where it all began."

Genevieve and John Goss, pictured at their wedding in 1989, are planning to travel back to Vincennes, Indiana, for their 35th anniversary on Monday.
/ Genevieve Goss
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Genevieve Goss
Genevieve and John Goss, pictured at their wedding in 1989, are planning to travel back to Vincennes, Indiana, for their 35th anniversary on Monday.

A college student anticipates a day of prayer and community

Asiyah Herrera, 22, isn't just excited for the eclipse because it's a rarity — but also because it falls during Ramadan, which many Muslims worldwide observe as a month of fasting, reflection and community.

"The month of Ramadan is already so much about community and worship and togetherness, and so this is just another affirmation of that," says Herrera.

Asiyah Herrera poses in the office of 826 Boston, a nonprofit writing organization where she works as a teaching artist.
Mel Taing / Asiyah Herrera
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Asiyah Herrera
Asiyah Herrera poses in the office of 826 Boston, a nonprofit writing organization where she works as a teaching artist.

She notes that the eclipse is also happening during the final 10 days of Ramadan (which ends on Tuesday), an especially holy time of the month.

Herrera, a junior at Simmons University in Boston, plans to take time off from classes to spend the day with her family and go to a local mosque for a special prayer that is only said during an eclipse. Its general message, she says, is about taking a pause to recognize "just how big and vast the universe is."

While Massachusetts is not in the path of totality, the Boston area will see a partial eclipse for just over two hours in the afternoon.

Herrera later plans to break the fast with her family and return to the mosque for evening prayers, capping off what she sees as "really just an entire day dedicated to God, and to worship, community."

"I really think that for many people, Muslim or not, that the eclipse is really like this big, amazing event that we're all like stopping our day to look at the sky and just be like, 'This is crazy, right?' " Herrera says. "For us it's also just a remembrance that the universe is vast and we are small and there's a lot of power, and that's amazing."


More resources to enjoy the eclipse


NPR will be sharing highlights herefrom across the NPR Network throughout the day Monday if you're unable to get out and see it in real time.

Fernando Alfonso III contributed reporting.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.
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