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A Look Into the Cosmos: The 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

2:07 PM: Eclipse begins as Moon will begin to cover the Sun

3:20 PM: Totality Begins. Duration depends on where you’re in the path of totality

4:33 PM: Eclipse ends for Rochester viewers


 

Mark your calendars! Western New York is in the path of totality for a once in a generation event! Between 2:07 PM and 4:33 PM on Monday, April 8th, get ready to witness a celestial spectacle unlike any other: the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.


This will be our first total eclipse here since 1925, and we won’t have another until 2144. Look at it this way: “If a kid is born on eclipse day 2024, their grandkid’s grandkid will be able to see it,” says Dan Schneiderman, Eclipse Coordinator at the Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC). Since 2022, Dan’s sole focus has been meticulous planning and preparation for this this once in a lifetime event—that’s how big this is!

 

With totality promising an unforgettable experience, visitors from far and wide will converge on Western New York. From Jamestown to Buffalo, Rochester to Waterloo, and even all the way to the Adirondacks, for local residents, your backyard itself offers a prime viewing spot, though the longest duration of the eclipse will occur at SUNY Brockport.

 


“Eclipses are extremely predictable,” Dan says as excitement for the event grows. “They follow very similar paths, and there’s one in Rochester every 100-120 years. There was even a 1925 article in the Democrat & Chronicle mentioning the 2024 solar eclipse.”

 

With the moon beginning to cover the eclipse around 2:07 PM, Dan warns that eclipse viewing glasses are incredibly important if people wish to look up at the sun outside the window of totality. Said glasses are available at the RMSC (“We only have maybe half a million,” Dan jokes), at your local library, or at various businesses across the area. During totality, viewers can look directly up at the sun to find it completely obscured by the moon.

 

“It will last for three-and-a-half minutes total,” he says, and you can remove your glasses for this brief window, but be forewarned that when the sun comes back from behind the moon, “it is an icepick of light.”

 

Totality is not the only kind of eclipse out there—we had an annular eclipse as recently as October 14, 2023! Annular eclipses mean the moon is in front of the sun, but because it is farther from the Earth it appears smaller and cannot block it out entirely, so viewers see sun rings around the moon.

 

During this year’s total eclipse, the weather should be on the milder side. Dan highlights that totality will be a very visual and physical experience: “The temperature will drop ten degrees, and it will be dark, like a deep dusk and not quite midnight. It will be like a 360º sunset on the horizon.”

 

During the eclipse, you will also be able to see Jupiter and Venus along with stars (which are always out, just not visible during the day because of the sun’s brightness), with Orion’s Belt being most notable.

 

With such a huge marvel on the horizon, there is no shortage of events planned in the area, from every local museum having an event/festival, a 5k, a themed euchre event, and Total Eclipse of the Park in Rochester, there are tons of ways to celebrate and something for every interest!

 

If you plan on staying home with family as opposed to going out, Dan suggests “really lean[ing] into the puns and have themed snacks: Sunny D., moon cookies, moon pies, Milky Way Bars… Have fun with it.” To go along with eclipse glasses, make your own pinhole viewers with cardboard boxes, or dig around in the kitchen for a strainer or slotted spoon for your own DIY version! (You can look at the ground and check the reflection in whatever tool you choose.)

 

“Plan ahead; be with your loved ones, because you will always remember who you were with,” Dan says. However you choose to observe the eclipse, it will be one of the biggest positive shared experiences you’ll have in this lifetime.

 

As the world collectively gazes upward, embracing the wonder of the cosmos, the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse promises to be an unforgettable glimpse into the depths of our universe.


In the Rochester area? Dan says the RMSC will be hosting a 3-day festival, ROC the Eclipse! The festival will feature activities ranging from Electricity Theater shows, Science on a Sphere 3D projection shows, hands-on activities, science experiments, solar telescope viewing outside, and more!



Celebrate the eclipse at home!

  • Have your eclipse glasses ready.

  • Find different pinhole projectors throughout your house. Not only can you make your own using a cereal box, but you can also use colanders, slotted spoons, your hands, or event Ritz or Saltine crackers during the partial phases

  • Be sure to record what you think will happen and your reaction after Totality

  • Have a dedicated timekeeper to let your family know when they can remove their eclipse glasses for totality and when to put them back on

  • Recreate an eclipse using chalk and construction paper (NASA activity)

  • Enjoy the eclipse and the ones you love.

 

Fun fact: Solar eclipses can only last seven-and-a-half minutes at most because of the distance between the moon and sun—the sun is small in the sky only from our perspective.

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