Solar Eclipse


March 19, 2024 —
PEF members at numerous state agencies are working hard behind the scenes in anticipation of crowds flocking to western and northern New York on April 8 to catch a glimpse of the rare total solar eclipse that will follow a roughly 100-mile-wide path across the state.

Cities and towns within the path of totality include Jamestown, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Watertown, Old Forge, Lake Placid and Plattsburgh. The entire event will last for up to 2.5 hours, marking the time the sun is first obstructed to the last moments when the moon’s shadow is cast. 

State parks 

The Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation created a website to guide visitors to parks offering activities and viewing opportunities, including Allegany State Park, Selkirk Shores State Park, Ganondagan State Historic Site, John Brown Farm State Historic Site, and Wellesley Island State Park. 

At Niagara Falls State Park, there will be programming led by scientists, subject-matter experts, and even astronauts from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The evening of April 8 there will be fireworks and shops will offer commemorative eclipse merchandise. 

Ganondagan will offer short presentations leading up to totality, including past eclipses in the context of Haudenosaunee history and the science behind total solar eclipses. Programs after totality include Native American storytelling and a discussion of the shared experience of witnessing totality. 

Road safety 

The state Department of Transportation is advising visitors and residents to plan ahead for dense traffic and long backups on public roadways. The agency has put out social media posts urging everyone to use the 511NY service, to come prepared with food, water, and medications, and not to park on the side of roads. 

For those who must drive, the Department of Motor Vehicles has additional advice: If you’re driving during the eclipse, be prepared to experience sudden darkness, and do not try to look at the eclipse while you’re in motion. Find a place to park if you want to look, and make sure you have proper eyewear. 

Eye safety 

ISO-certified eclipse glasses will shield your eyes from serious and possibly permanent damage, which can occur by looking at the eclipse with regular sunglasses or without any eye protection, according to the state Department of Health. 

A limited quantity of I LOVE NY eclipse glasses will be available at locations throughout the state, including New York State Welcome Centers and select service areas along the New York State Thruway. Glasses will be limited to two pairs per person, while supplies last, with a limited amount distributed daily.  

What is an eclipse? 

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun at just the right time and orientation, with the moon casting a shadow on a portion of the Earth’s surface. On rare occasions, the moon entirely blocks the face of the sun and results in a total solar eclipse.  

“Places in the path of totality, including most of Western and North Central New York, will experience several minutes of darkened sky similar to the twilight seen before sunrise or after sunset,” according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo. “If we have clear skies on the day of the eclipse, an incredible view of the sun’s corona will be seen during the few minutes of totality. The sun’s corona is normally not visible, except during a total solar eclipse. The corona is wispy, white streamers of plasma (charged gas) that radiate out from the surface of the sun.” 

I Love NY launched a website full of information on times, locations, events, and more. 

We want to hear from you 

Was your agency involved in eclipse preparation or activities? Tell us about it! Email us at Communicator@pef.org.