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2024 Solar Eclipse

Eclipses Past Present and Future Exhibit 


Our newest exhibit, Eclipses: Past, Present and Future delves into the history of two past total solar eclipse expeditions by Observatory directors and staff (1869 and 1932), 19th and early 20th century astrophotography, and the science behind eclipses. Through looking back at the past,  it allows us to understand the challenges and efforts it took to document eclipses compared to the technology we have today. This exhibit also allows us to grasp and understand the evolution of astronomy, and technology since the 19th century and the scientific importance of “chasing eclipses.”


In 1869, Cincinnati Observatory Director Cleveland Abbe left Cincinnati with an expedition party to Sioux Falls, Dakota Territory to document the 1869 total solar eclipse. They were the furthest west and most remote of all parties to chase the 1869 eclipse. During this expedition the team successfully captured over twenty quality images of the eclipse, some of the earliest successful attempts at solar eclipse astrophotography.


In 1932, Observatory Director, Dr. Everett Yowell gained permission from the University of Cincinnati Board of Directors to lead an expedition party to view the total solar eclipse of 1932. The project’s goal was to determine the exact position of the moon with reference to the sun by observing the time of contact and by photographing the partial eclipse at intervals, and for the corona to be photographed by selective light. Although the eclipse was mostly clouded out, the expedition party was able to gather useful information on eclipses to add to the body of knowledge in the scientific community.


The Observatory has extensive collections, including over 1200 glass plate negatives documenting our history, including expeditions such as these. As well as personal journals, scrapbooks and equipment used for these momentous expeditions in eclipse chasing.

Please join us in learning about this fascinating history through our exhibit, Eclipses: Past, Present and Future. This exhibit will run through the end of May 2024.

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