Sharing an astronomical moment together

Total Solar Eclipse

Sharing an astronomical moment together

Celestial marvel thrills campus community members who gathered for the first total solar eclipse in the Kingston region since the 14th century.

April 9, 2024


Students observe the total solar eclipse

Thousands of people, including Queen's students, faculty, and staff, filled Tindall Field to observe the total solar eclipse together on Monday, April 8. (Queen's University/Jana Chytilova)

An estimated 6,000 people gathered on Tindall Field and other vantage points across Queen’s campus to share in the wonder of a total solar eclipse at 3:22 p.m. on Monday, April 8.  

For months prior to the rare celestial phenomenon, the university and local partners were engaged in planning and preparation to ensure the community was ready for a safe and educational eclipse experience.  

In the months leading up to the eclipse, an outreach and education campaign was conducted by a group of 70 campus community volunteers recruited by the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy, utilizing the expertise of faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and staff.

A view of total solar eclipse

At 3:22 p.m. on Monday, April 8, eclipse watchers experienced totality, where the moon fully obscures the sun and results in darkness and a quick drop in temperature. (Queen's University/Jana Chytilova)

Due to their efforts, the Queen’s and Kingston communities were ready for the big day.

“On Tindall Field, we were able to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with thousands of people, and the roar of cheers that went up at totality is going to be one of my lifelong memories,” says Rob Knobel, Head of the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy, who helped lead the university’s preparations for the eclipse. “I'm so proud of the team of Queen’s Eclipse Ambassadors who spread out to 20 sites across the city and region, giving the same experience to visitors and residents alike.”

Queen’s sourced 120,000 pairs of eclipse glasses, providing them free to campus community members and donating over 80,000 to local school boards and to people across the Kingston region for pick up at local public libraries.

Nikhil Arora views the eclipse through a telescope

Nikhil Arora, an astronomy post-doctoral fellow and Queen’s eclipse coordinator, views the early stages of the eclipse through a telescope fitted with a special lens. (Queen's University/Jana Chytilova)

Team members also visited more than 80 schools in the Limestone District School Board and Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board, teaching students about eclipses, including why they happen and how they have helped researchers advance the understanding of light, as well as how to view the eclipse safely. 

“It was wonderful to have the support of the whole Queen's community, who have been planning for this day for over a year – a collaborative effort that made our educational efforts and the viewing a tremendous success,” Dr. Knobel added.

To learn more about the preparations and research conducted by Queen’s experts, visit the Queen’s Total Solar Eclipse website.

The university also shared the events of the day through its social media accounts, including Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and X.

Grant Hall seen during totality

Every day, the Queen’s iconic Grant Hall clock tower stands tall above campus’ University Avenue, but rarely is it set against a backdrop quite like this one – a total solar eclipse. (Queen's University)

Queen's students watch the total solar eclipse

Queen's students don glasses provided by the university during the early stages of the total solar eclipse. (Queen's University/Jana Chytilova)

Students sit in darkness of totality

Students sit in darkness as they watch the final stages of totality. (Queen's University/Jana Chytilova)

Tindall Field fills with eclipse watchers

Tindall Field fills up as the total solar eclipse nears. (Queen's University/Jana Chytilova)

Physical Sciences and Engineering