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Where to view the April 8 solar eclipse

The two-day X Marks the Spot Festival takes place in downtown Paducah. Photo: Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau
Lay a blanket beneath a century-old shade tree in Henderson’s Audubon Mill Park for viewing the eclipse. Photo: Henderson Tourist Commission
Witness the celestial phenomenon at Wickliffffe Mounds. Photo: Clay Cook/Kentucky State Parks
Gather up family and friends and head to the John James Audubon State Park in Henderson. Photo: Kentucky State Parks
John James Audubon State Park offers woodlands, nature trails, a boardwalk overlooking the wetland and much more. Photo: Kentucky State Parks
Hardin Planetarium at Western Kentucky University is hosting events for the Great North American Eclipse. Photo: Visit BGKY

ALL EYES WILL BE ON WESTERN KENTUCKY, or should we say, the skies above western Kentucky, on April 8 when the moon passes between the sun and Earth and shrouds Wickliffe, Paducah and Henderson, among other towns on the path of totality, in complete darkness in the middle of the afternoon. It will be the last total solar eclipse visible in the United States until 2044. 

Here is a sampling of Kentucky communities, inside and outside the path of totality, that present ideal viewing locations—many of them hosting events. Pack your ISO-approved eclipse viewing glasses and plan to arrive early. 

X marks the spot 

A once-in-a-lifetime festival will celebrate Paducah’s placement at the intersection of the path of totality for both the 2017 and the 2024 eclipses. 

“Paducah is situated right where the two paths meet and will be in totality for nearly two minutes,” says Liz Hammonds, director of marketing and communications at the Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau. 

The UNESCO Creative City will experience a partial solar eclipse beginning at 12:42 p.m., with totality beginning at 2 p.m. and lasting approximately 1 minute and 31 seconds. 

Celebrating the auspicious occasion is the X Marks the Spot Festival, a downtown watch party April 7 and 8. 

The free community event includes live music, science and eclipse art activities for all ages; plus shopping, street food and eclipse-themed snacks, science demonstrations and multiple viewing locations and parties. 

On April 8, Paducah’s National Quilt Museum is hosting a Quilt on the Lawn viewing event, inviting sky watchers to gather on the lawn with family and friends and spread a quilt to witness the eclipse. 

Other events: A Heaven and Earth Psychic Fair, hosted by Paducah’s Wildhair Studios’ Rock Shop, features energy healers, eclipse-themed activities and merchandise. Enjoy family-friendly interactive and educational programs plus free, hands-on science demonstrations at the Inland Waterways Museum. 

Picnic on the path 

Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site will be cast in darkness for a full two minutes and 44 seconds, and visitors are invited to experience the moments at this ancient Mississippian archaeological site. 

“Wickliffe Mounds will be open for visitors to set up their own viewing area with lawn chairs and picnic blankets, with space available on the grounds and picnic table areas on a first come, first served basis,” says Carla Hildebrand, park manager. 

The park will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the museum and gift shop open until 4:30 p.m. Although there is no food service, eclipse chasers may want to bring a picnic supper (the park will have soft drinks for sale) to accompany the cosmic show. 

Here is a link to the interactive NASA map!

According to, Henderson is inside the path, and downtown Henderson will experience about 2 1/2 minutes of totality, beginning at approximately 2:02 p.m. Potential viewing areas include several parks, including Audubon Mill and Red Banks parks—both located on the banks of the Ohio River and providing ideal viewing (and picnicking) locations. 

Additionally, John James Audubon State Park is a serene and scenic spot to gather for solar eclipse sighting, with acres of woodlands, miles of nature trails and wheelchair-accessible pathways connecting with a 750-foot boardwalk and overlooking the Audubon Wetland. 

Airports and astronomers 

Sturgis Municipal Airport is hosting a family-fun Eclipse Viewing Party to appreciate the partial eclipse that begins in Sturgis at 12:45 p.m. and lasts for over two minutes. Starting at 11 a.m., the free celestial celebration includes tasty treats from a variety of food trucks, live and lively tunes and lots of inflatables for the little ones. Adding to the spectacle will be the single-engine International Comanche Chapter aircraft flying into the airport. 

In Morganfield, an unforgettable day filled with family adventures, culinary delights, crafts and more awaits at the Solar Eclipse Festival. Held from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Morganfield City Park, the event includes live music, family crafts, delicious foods and a celestial lineup featuring astronomers and storytellers. 

In Bowling Green, the moon will begin to cover the sun at 12:46 p.m., reach maximum coverage at 2:04 and move on by 3:21 p.m. At Western Kentucky University, the Hardin Planetarium and WKU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy will be ready with a community event that includes hands-on activities and lessons, and solar telescopes set up for the public to use. 

Activity will center around the planetarium and the university’s Snell Hall—but before heading to campus grounds, check for updates on Hardin Planetarium’s Facebook page (Hardin Planetarium). In either case, with WKU situated on “The Hill,” shadow lovers will be rewarded with great views.

Discover communities and venues along the path of the Great North America Eclipse 

Frankfort/Franklin County Tourist & Convention Commission 

  • 300 Saint Clair St., Ste. 102, Frankfort 
  • (800) 960-7200 
  • Great viewing locations in Frankfort include Cove Spring Park and its Sky Trail, Juniper Hill Park, Leslie Morris Park on Fort Hill, Capital View Park and Daniel Boone’s Grave in the Frankfort Cemetery. 

Hardin Planetarium 

  • 1501 State St., Bowling Green (at Western Kentucky University, 1906 College Heights Blvd., Bowling Green) 
  • (270) 745-4044
  • For solar eclipse event updates, Facebook: Hardin Planetarium. 

Henderson Tourist Commission 

  • 101 N. Water St., Henderson 
  • (270) 826-3128
  • Check website for updates for specific activities. 

Hart County Tourism 

  • 111 E. Main St., Horse Cave 
  • (270) 218-0386. 
  • The tourism office is distributing ISO-approved eclipse viewing glasses to all Hart County attractions on April 8: Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo, Hidden River Cave, Dutch Country Safari Park, Adventures of Mammoth Cave, Dennison’s Roadside Market and Horse Cave KOA Holiday, as well as Horse Cave’s I-65 rest areas. 

Morganfield City Park 

Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau 

  • 128 Broadway, Paducah 
  • (800) PADUCAH 
  • See the full list of activities and viewing locations at solar-eclipse-2024 

Sturgis Airport 

  • 510 Main St., Sturgis 
  • Facebook: Sturgis Airport
  • (270) 333- 4487 
  • See Eclipse Viewing Party event details on the airport’s Facebook page. 

Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site 

KATHY WITT is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer based in Northern Kentucky and the author of Secret Cincinnati and The Secret of the Belles

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