On Monday, August 21, people across North America will experience an event that hasn’t occurred here in 38 years: a solar eclipse. This celestial event occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, blocking all or part of the sun. If you want to witness the great American eclipse first hand, here is what you need to know about watching the eclipse in the Finger Lakes.
Safety first: No, really! Whether you’re looking at the sun in Naples, New York; Naples, Florida; or Naples, Italy, you need protective eyewear to prevent damaging your vision, even during a solar eclipse. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has more information on protecting your vision, including where to find solar viewers or, the less technical term, eclipse glasses. Many retail stores are selling out of glasses. If you find yourself without a pair you can read more about other safe ways to view the eclipse here.
What to look for: The eclipse will be visible across much of North America, but not everyone is in the path of totality, or the area where the moon will completely block the sun. In New York State, the moon is expected to block roughly 75% of the sun, which is still quite a lot. In the Finger Lakes, you can expect the eclipse to begin by 1:15 p.m., to be at maximum around 2:36 p.m., and to be over by 3:52 p.m.
Where to look: The best viewing locations are places that offer a clear view of the sky, but any viewer should be mobile and ready to move if conditions become unfavorable. In Ontario County’s Finger Lakes, the flat, openness of the lakes and farmland create broad visible skies. Consider lakefront locations like Kershaw Park, Seneca Lake State Park, or the boat launch in Woodville. Rural locations with open fields and roads also make good viewing locations. The towns of Hopewell and Gorham have many sections of clear skies.
Of course, viewing conditions all depend on the weather. If the weather is cloudy or rainy, there won’t be much to see. The National Centers for Environmental Information created predictions based on the average cloudiness of August 21 in previous years. Their model suggests visibility in the Finger Lakes could be less than optimal, but weather changes quickly here. The National Weather Service is tracking visibility leading up to the eclipse. Keep watching their reports for updates, and happy eclipse viewing.
Did you know? There is a Finger Lakes winery with a series of wines named “Eclipse”? Find out which winery, here!