Simons Foundation Funds More Than 100 Events for April Solar Eclipse

The foundation’s In the Path of Totality initiative is partnering with dozens of communities to make the upcoming eclipse an engaging and unforgettable experience.

Eclipse Glasses

On April 8, 2024, tens of millions of Americans will share one of the universe’s most spectacular events: a total eclipse of the sun by the moon. As the moon’s shadow crosses the United States from Texas to Maine, the Simons Foundation and its partners will offer opportunities for everyone along that path to engage with the spectacle and science of the eclipse.

The foundation’s new In the Path of Totality initiative is providing capacity-building support to dozens of science museums, cultural centers, main street festivals, rural engagement hubs and other organizations along the eclipse’s path. While all 50 states will experience a partial eclipse, only the 115-mile-wide path of totality will see the moon completely block the sun.

The initiative is particularly focused on people and communities within that path that have fewer science engagement opportunities. The foundation views the eclipse as a national moment in which to foster lasting relationships with science and celebrate science’s power to connect people, regardless of their geographic location.

Depending on the event, eclipse watchers might peer through solar telescopes, experience eclipse-inspired art, listen to live music, chat with scientists or sip eclipse-themed craft beers at the local brewery. The Simons Foundation aims to engage hundreds of thousands of people with its eclipse content and programming and will hand out 80,000 pairs of eclipse glasses to event attendees nationwide.

“By increasing access to science, we improve science as a whole,” says Simons Foundation president David Spergel. “Good science requires a diversity of perspectives and opinions, so it’s imperative that we engage as many people as we can. In the Path of Totality is putting into practice our belief that science can and should be for everyone.”

Eclipse-goers can learn more about the events and partnerships on the In the Path of Totality website, which details the plans across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

The initiative is part of the Simons Foundation’s continued commitment to advancing basic science through grant funding, research support and public engagement. The upcoming total solar eclipse — the last in the contiguous United States until 2044 — presents a unique opportunity to strengthen people’s relationship with science, says Ivvet Modinou, vice president of the foundation’s Science, Society & Culture division.

“This eclipse is an opportunity for us to build partnerships in new geographical regions and support organizations who see the value of engaging their community with science,” she says. “Our hope is that this leads to lasting relationships and more on-ramps for people, regardless of location, to forge relationships with science.”

The Simons Foundation will host the initiative’s flagship event on the day of the eclipse in Austin, Texas, as well as two days of additional programming there. The three-day celebration will include scientists, artists, musicians, food and drink partners, activities, and plenty of opportunities for attendees to mingle and connect.

Along the path of totality, the Simons Foundation is supporting artworks showcasing the eclipse’s power to capture our imagination. The foundation’s newly launched Triangle Program is supporting seven collaborations of artists, scientists and local producing partners to create new eclipse-inspired art pieces spanning performance, sound, experimental photography, public sculpture, theater and multimedia installation. One of the first art pieces, “Passing Into Shadow,” is already wowing visitors at Artspace 304 in Carbondale, Illinois.

Accessible collaborations like these can offer new ways for people to connect with science locally. While some of the foundation’s eclipse partners are science-focused, many others are community-led, such as main streetsfestivals, and art and cultural centers. Through a partnership with Main Street America, In the Path of Totality will support 15 historic downtowns and commercial districts in hosting eclipse events for residents. The foundation is even teaming up with 13 craft breweries to offer eclipse-themed beers. The nonmonetary brewery partnerships will heighten excitement in the run-up to the big event and connect people with the eclipse in new ways.

As part of its goal to make sure everyone can enjoy the eclipse, the Simons Foundation is supporting the Harvard-based LightSound Project. The LightSound team is building special devices that transform the dimming of the sun’s light into a musical tone for people with blindness or low vision. The team aims to have 750 such devices available during the eclipse.

The foundation is also working with science-focused organizations that already engage with communities along the eclipse’s path. Through a partnership with the Association of Science and Technology Centers, the foundation is supporting more than 50 institutions in developing eclipse events and related programming. The foundation’s funding of these and other science centers and museums will ensure that even more people can benefit from each museum’s offerings.

In addition to large U.S. cities such as Dallas and Indianapolis, the April eclipse will pass through hundreds of rural towns and communities. The foundation is collaborating with organizations such as the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub and the Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement to craft bespoke science engagement opportunities for communities outside metropolitan areas. The foundation is also supporting the Little Free Library organization in building 25 new library boxes stocked with science books in towns along the eclipse’s path.

The Simons Foundation is also working with existing partners supported through its Science Sandbox initiative. The organizations are receiving additional funding to reach communities in the path of totality through eclipse-related live events, youth programming and more.

The foundation is offering ways for people to engage with the eclipse in its hometown of New York City as well, both in the weeks before and on the day of the big event. While the eclipse won’t reach totality in the city (capping out at around 90 percent), New Yorkers will still be in for a treat: The foundation and its partners will host dance performances, scientific presentations and other events before and during the eclipse. These include weekly solar viewings in Madison Square Park every Wednesday, culminating in an eclipse party in the park on April 8.

As the moon’s shadow finishes crossing the United States on April 8, the memories and connections the eclipse sparks won’t fade away. The Simons Foundation plans to continue to strengthen its connections with its partners, with the goal of providing more opportunities for people to engage with math and science in the coming years, Modinou says.

“This is just the beginning,” she says. “We’re excited to find more opportunities to work with these organizations and to continue to use science as a vehicle to bring people together.”

Images and videos related to the In the Path of Totality initiative are available on Google Drive. For more information, including to arrange interviews, please contact Stacey Greenebaum at

Source: Simons Foundation