State parks plan solar eclipse events

— Map from USGS

The ovals centered by a blue line track the path of totality across New York state for the April 8 solar eclipse.

ALBANY COUNTY — Thacher Park is among the state parks that will hold special events leading up to the total solar eclipse on April 8.

Thacher will hold what is billed as an “activity hour” on Saturday, March 23, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

The cosmic event happens once every 400 years in the same location. Events, according to a release from the governor’s office, will be held both where the eclipse will be fully visible across a narrow route, referred to as the path of totality, and where visitors can experience a rare partial eclipse throughout the rest of the state.

During the afternoon of April 8, a total eclipse will encompass the western and northern parts of New York State. In less than 15 minutes within a 3:15 to 3:30 window, the moon will pass between the earth and sun, turning day into night for 1 ½ to 3 ½ minutes.

The roughly 100-mile wide path of totality will enter in the southwestern part of the state at just after 3:15 p.m., and will depart northern New York just before 3:30. Cities and towns within this path include Jamestown, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Watertown, Old Forge, Lake Placid, and Plattsburgh.

The entire event will last for up to 2 ½ hours, marking the time the sun is first obstructed to the last moments when the moon’s shadow is cast. Viewers are advised to protect their eyes with specialized solar viewing glasses.

For other areas of the state that are outside the path, there will still be quite a celestial spectacle. The minimum coverage in the state will be on Long Island, with the sun being shadowed at 88 percent there. New York City will see 89 percent coverage with 96 percent in the Capital Region.

The next total solar eclipse that will be visible from the contiguous United States will not be until August 2044.

Beginning on April 4, scientists, subject-matter experts, and astronauts from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will be providing programming and exhibits at Niagara Falls State Park as well as throughout the city at specified locations. All events will be free and open to the public throughout the entire weekend leading up to the April 8 event.

NASA will be hosting similar events in several other cities throughout the path of totality. A full list of events may be found at the 2024 Solar Eclipse | Niagara Falls USA website.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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