Vanderbilt launches programming for total solar eclipse

The first total solar eclipse to sweep across the United States in 99 years will occur on Aug. 21, with Nashville, Tennessee, in its direct path. During the eclipse, the moon will pass in front of the sun, blocking its light for up to two minutes and 42 seconds. As reported by Vanderbilt’s Dyer Observatory, Nashville is the largest metro population in the path of the total eclipse.

The Office of the Vice Provost for Learning and Residential Affairs, in partnership with a variety of internal and external partners, including Dyer Observatory, is coordinating a series of student competitions, curricular and co-curricular programs, and special events to celebrate the upcoming eclipse.

Student competitions


The Department of Art is hosting a visual arts competition called “Obscura.” The submission deadline is March 15. Visit for submission requirements or to learn more.

The Sun and the Moon: A Poetry and Flash Fiction Contest

The Department of English is hosting a creative writing competition called “The Sun and the Moon: A Poetry and Flash Fiction Contest.” The submission deadline is March 27. Visit for submission requirements, or email for more information.

Solar Expressions

The Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy is hosting an innovation competition called Solar Expressions. The submission deadline is March 31. Visit for submission requirements, or email for more information.

Celebration of competition winners

The Office of the Vice Provost for Learning and Residential Affairs will host a celebration of the competition winners on April 17 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Winners will receive monetary prizes, and the winning submissions will be presented and/or on display during the ceremony. Visit for more information.

Spring events (open to campus)

Dyer Observatory open house

Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory will host an open house the first Tuesday of each month from 1 to 3 p.m. beginning in March through November 2017. For more information, visit or contact the Dyer Observatory.

The Shadow of the Sun: E.E. Barnard and the Solar Eclipse

Vanderbilt University Libraries will host an exhibition curated by four astronomy students on the work of American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard (1857-1823). The exhibition will be located at the Central Library, Second Floor Gallery, from April 7 through Sept. 10. The opening reception will be held on April 7. For more information, visit or contact at the Jean and Alexander Heard Library.

Skywatchers of the Ancient Americas

John W. Janusek, associate professor of anthropology, will present on the science of astronomy and skywatching in several civilizations across the Precolumbian Americas at 3 p.m. April 5 at the Wond’ry, Room 202. Visit for more information.

Countdown to totality

Dyer Observatory will set up a solar telescope at various locations on campus every Thursday from noon to 2 p.m., weather permitting, from March 16 to April 20. Visit and follow @vueclipse on Facebook or Twitter to find out the locations of the solar telescopes on campus each Thursday.


Susan Stewart, adjoint assistant professor of astronomy, will teach a Maymester class titled “Preparing for the 2017 Total Eclipse” (ASTR 3890: Special Topics in Astronomy). For more information, contact, visit the Maymester On-Campus website, or register on YES from March 27 to May 8.

Eclipse day events

Distribution of viewing glasses

Vanderbilt University will distribute glasses that are safe for viewing the eclipse to Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff. First-year students will gather on The Ingram Commons lawn for their class picture with their glasses to view the eclipse. Check, Facebook and Twitter for forthcoming details on the distribution locations.

Eclipse ballooning project

The School of Engineering is partnering with NASA, NOAA, the Tennessee Space Consortium, and the Vanderbilt University Amateur Radio Club (VUARC) to send a high-altitude weather balloon to the edge of space to live-stream video of the total solar eclipse. Vanderbilt community members may watch the live stream at the Wond’ry from noon to 2 p.m. Visit for additional information.


The Vanderbilt University Amateur Radio Club (VUARC) will communicate with amateur radio operators (a.k.a hams) across Tennessee via a radio repeater aboard the weather balloon. Visit the Wond’ry from noon to 2 p.m. to watch the live stream and join the VUARC members in communicating with other amateur radio enthusiasts. Visit for more information.

For more information or updates about the competitions and events, please visit, or follow @VUeclipse on Facebook and Twitter.