Are You Ready to Watch the Solar Eclipse in Westchester?

Prepare for a celestial marvel as the Empire State braces for its first total solar eclipse in almost a century.

On the afternoon of Monday, April 8th, the most spectacular sight that nature offers will be seen (weather-permitting) in the skies above New York State: a total solar eclipse. But not all New Yorkers will see totality — an observer will need to be in a relatively narrow path upstate to experience this event to its fullest; a full dose of awe and wonder as the dark sphere of the moon slides across the solar disc and ultimately covers it, turning daytime into deep twilight for a few precious and unforgettable minutes. Luna’s umbra will briefly enshroud Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Rochester, Syracuse, and other upstate cities and towns on its eastward trek toward New England and the Maritimes.

The Empire State hasn’t seen a total eclipse of the sun since 1925 — almost a full century of celestial deprivation. Then, the moon’s shadow sped southeastward from Buffalo across the Finger Lakes, into Westchester and New York City, then out into the Atlantic. Judging from newspaper accounts of the day, it was quite a celebrated spectacle, with watch parties on roofs and even the US Navy dirigible Los Angeles braving the frigid January morning to capture moving pictures of the eclipse.

Courtesy of Rainbow Symphony

Unfortunately, this time, Westchesterites can’t just step out their front door to gaze up at totality like they did in 1925. The best we can do is about a 92-percent partial eclipse, which may sound pretty good, but you can do infinitely better by driving just a few hours north. Just a 1-percent sliver of sunlight remaining visible is still 10,000 times brighter than a total eclipse, which means if you stay put, you’ll be deprived of seeing the solar corona, Baily’s Beads (the row of brilliant points of sunlight shining through valleys on the edge of the moon seen for a few seconds before and after the central phase in an eclipse of the sun), as well as neon-pink prominences arching from the solar disc, and two diamond rings of sunlight just prior to and after totality. And that doesn’t include the surreal sights you’ll see taking place all around you.

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You can learn more about the 2024 total solar eclipse and order certified-safe, made-in-the-USA eclipse glasses at scienceinsideout.com and on Facebook at: Totality2024: Your Source for the North American Total Solar Eclipse.

For those in our area who don’t wish to miss the big show, Amtrak offers day trippers an easy ride upstate and back from Yonkers, Croton, and Poughkeepsie, avoiding highways that will likely be traffic nightmares just as they were during the 2017 eclipse.

solar eclipse
Photo by Colleen M. Kennedy

The next cross-country US totality will occur in 2045. So, make your travel plans and get your eclipse glasses now or you may truly be left out in the light.

Charles Fulco is a science teacher at The Brooklyn Friends School in New York City, a NASA-JPL Solar System Ambassador, and an observer of five total solar eclipses on four continents.

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