Total Solar Eclipse


A total solar eclipse only lasts for a few minutes, but in that short window lies bountiful knowledge of Earth and space. Helium was discovered and relativity was proven through eclipse research. Learn how UMaine students and researchers explored the cosmic wonder on April 8, and join them on the adventure.

Looking to recycle your eclipse glasses?


The total solar eclipse appeared for three-and-a-half minutes at 3:29 p.m. in Jackman A group from UMaine was there to capture images of the eclipse as part of the nationwide citizen science project CATE 2024. Meanwhile, another UMaine group launched a balloon with camera systems into the stratosphere to film the cosmic wonder.

Versant Power Astronomy Center research and outreach

University of Maine experts from the Versant Power Astronomy Center and Jordan Planetarium visited Jackman to experience the total solar eclipse, educate locals and visitors, and photograph the corona.

High altitude balloon launch

High school student Lana Friess recorded the high altitude balloon launch from the ground.

UMaine junior computer engineering student and high altitude balloon team member Noah Lambert took this footage with a drone during totality at Arnold Farm Sugarhouse in Sandy Bay Township, Maine.


Orono was located outside of the path of totality, meaning they were only able to witness a partial solar eclipse. Regardless, hundreds of people gathered on the Mall to watch the moon cover 98.9% of the sun, leaving a glowing sliver in the sky.


A photo of a total solar eclipse

UMaine projects expanding nationwide access to 2024 total solar eclipse

A photo of a high altitude balloon over UMaine's campus

UMaine project will livestream total solar eclipse from the stratosphere 

A photo of researchers in front of screen in the astronomy center

UMaine astronomers coordinating citizen science research on total solar eclipse in Northeast 

The Maine Question podcast: How do I experience a total solar eclipse?

Mainers are helping collect images and data of the total solar eclipse for a nationwide citizen science project: CATE2024. UMaine’s Shawn Laatsch and Nikita Saini trained them how to use specialized telescopes to conduct their work. 

Meet the researchers

A portrait of Shawn Laatsch

Shawn Laatsch

Director, Versant Power Astronomy Center

For 30 years, Laatsch has worked for and directed planetariums across the U.S. and delivered astronomy shows and lectures worldwide, and has witnessed five total solar eclipses. He serves as the Northeast coordinator for NASA’s eclipse citizen science project: CATE2024.

A portrait of Nikita Sani

Nikita Saini

Ph.D. Candidate, Physics

Saini has been training citizen scientists in Maine and the Northeast for NASA’s eclipse citizen science project: CATE2024. She works for the Versant Power Astronomy Center and is a teaching assistant with the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

A photo of Rick Eason

Rick Eason

Associate Professor Emeritus, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Eason directs the UMaine High Altitude Ballooning Program, which he founded in 2011 with funding from the Maine Space Grant Consortium. He’s launched and recovered more than 145 high altitude balloons, including two during the 2017 solar eclipse, and others in places as far away as Hawaii, Kenya and Spain.

A portrait of Andy Sheaff

Andy Sheaff

Lecturer and facilities support, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Sheaff has been involved with UMaine’s High Altitude Ballooning Program since 2015, and has participated in several eclipse-related projects. At UMaine, he teaches the first-year introductory course in electrical and computer engineering, circuit theory, Linux systems administration and the senior capstone design course sequence. Other projects include a communications system for cave rescue incidents and environmental data collection and logging.