On April 8, 2024, people across North America will experience an event that hasn’t occurred in 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 firsthand, here is what you need to know about watching 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, read more about other safe ways to view the eclipse.
What to look for: The eclipse will be visible across North America, Rochester and the Finger Lakes Region will be in the path of totality, or the area where the moon will completely block the sun. In the Finger Lakes, you can expect the eclipse to begin by 2:06 p.m., to be at maximum around 3:20 p.m., and to be over by 4:33 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. See your view of the eclipse, and where you stand in regard to the path of totality.
If the weather is cloudy or rainy, we won’t see the spectacular image of the corona of the sun directly. But the eclipse will still happen, of course, and the experience of complete darkness in the middle of the afternoon is still a profound personal and community experience; the Finger Lakes’ distance from metropolitan light pollution allows our region fully to embrace the dark. The National Centers for Environmental Information created predictions based on the average cloudiness of April 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”.