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Eclipse mania sweeps the County

by WayneTimes.com
March 23, 2024

The sun is about to pull another disappearing act across North America, turning day into night during a total solar eclipse.

The peak spectacle on April 8 will last up to 4 minutes, 28 seconds in the path of total darkness — twice as long as the total solar eclipse that dimmed U.S. skies in 2017.

An estimated 44 million people live inside the 115-mile-wide (path of totality stretching from Mazatlán, Mexico to Newfoundland; about 32 million of them are in the U.S., guaranteeing jammed roads for the must-see celestial sensation.

In the U.S., weather permitting, sky-watchers in 15 states will have the chance to see the moon almost completely cover the sun, casting its shadow over the fiery orb and creating the effect of a ring in the sky.

The eclipse will allow many to share in the “wonder of the universe without going very far,” said NASA’s eclipse program manager Kelly Korreck.

Here’s what to know about April’s extravaganza and how to prepare:

What happens during the total solar eclipse?

The moon will line up perfectly between the Earth and the sun, blotting out the sunlight. It will slice a diagonal line from the southwest to the northeast across North America, briefly plunging communities along the track into darkness.

By a cosmic stroke of luck, the moon will make the month’s closest approach to Earth the day before the total solar eclipse. That puts the moon just 223,000 miles (360,000 kilometers) away on eclipse day.

The moon will appear slightly bigger in the sky thanks to that proximity, resulting in an especially long period of sun-blocked darkness.

Being directly over the path of a total eclipse has its advantages for much of Western New York, including Wayne County.

So, what will YOU be doing for three and a half minutes on April 8th at around 3:21 p.m.?  

The Total Eclipse of 2024 has been touted as a spectacular must-see experience of a lifetime. 

First contact in Wayne County, will start at around 2 p.m. but totality will come an hour later and range from 2 minutes and 50 seconds in Savannah to a maximum of 3 minutes and 35 seconds over the town of Ontario. 

Christine Worth, County Tourism Director, has been anticipating this event for four years and has been educating business and county leaders on what to expect and how to prepare. “This event attracts people from outside the narrow path of totality just for this experience,” Worth stated. This year’s moon shadow will not cover any of the major cities along the eastern seaboard. “We expect an influx of interest and visitors from the east,” she said. Many local businesses are hosting events.

In 2023, Worth reached out to Deb Hall, Director of the Wayne County Historical Society to partner on the creation of an eclipse-inspired poster to be drawn by astronomer and artist, Dr. Tyler Nordgren of Ithaca. 

In anticipation of the 2017 eclipse that stretched from Oregon to South Carolina, Nordgren produced a series of 30 eclipse travel posters for communities, state, and national parks with-in the path of totality. His poster art is a terrific blend of Americana and modern science. The 2017 series has since been collected by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. 

“Tyler interviewed us for ideas on what iconic images represented Wayne County,” Hall recalled. This conversation sparked the request for the image of a historic canning label. After a couple weeks, Nordgren offered a draft version of what is now the official county eclipse artwork which is reminiscent of an old Edgett-Burnham Canning factory label.

The Museum is offering souvenirs that feature the eclipse poster art including t-shirts and artist-signed posters. In addition, a special Museum exhibit opened on March 12 entitled “Total Eclipse of the Heart of Wayne County. The exhibit also features original eclipse-inspired art from North Rose-Wolcott High School students who were given an assignment to create works based on their own eclipse research or another eclipse artist.

As for the big day, two local watch parties in Lyons are being co-sponsored by the Museum. One will be family-friendly and free at the Lyons Community Center from 1p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The other will be at the new Lock 27 Complex on Water St. alongside the Erie Canal from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Both venues will provide indoor and outdoor activities leading up to the full eclipse. Free eclipse glasses will be available to attendees. 

But wait! Hotel rooms are booked and just about every town and business is jumping on the eclipse bandwagon.

The Rochester Museum and Science Center is planning a three day extravaganza milking every moment leading up to the Monday event.

Want some advance sound and eclipse fury? Embrace the Eclipse with  the RPO (Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra) before the big event! As part of their Care and Wellness Initiative, this concert on April 6 at Hochstein Performance Hall is designed to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for those with sensory sensitivities. It offers an experience tailored for music lovers who may benefit from a more relaxed and accommodating setting and may not be able to attend the RPO’s Eclipse Spectacular on April 7. In this way, music lovers of all ages and abilities can take part in this once-in-a-lifetime event in the lead-up to our area’s Total Solar Eclipse.

Just remember, special glasses are necessary for observing the eclipse. Most events are offering the free glasses in advance, or the day of the Sun/Moon

The NSF (National Science Foundation) will host an educational livestream on YouTube that’s all about the eclipse and the science of the sun. Hear from real scientists and explore some of the high-tech facilities they use, including the NSF Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, the largest solar telescope in the world.

As the eclipse unfolds, NASA will launch small rockets with science instruments into the upper atmosphere from Virginia and chase totality’s shadow from high-altitude planes. Satellites and the International Space Station crew will attempt to capture the show from space. NSF’s livestream is a free resource that teachers can also use in their classrooms to share the excitement of science.

For more information about countywide eclipse-related events and the Museum visit www.WayneHistory.org/eclipse. 

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