2021 Partial Eclipse – Martin Road Park 3 [Provided by Rochester Museum and Science Center]
I bet some of you saw that headline and started rolling your eyes. You’ve seen a million come ons for a really big show and found them all, well, underwhelming. But this is different: I promise! This really big show is the biggest show humans get to see, and all of Rochester has a front row seat! Time to mark your calendars for the total solar eclipse on Monday April 8 2024 at 3:20pm. For the first time in 99 years, all of our nine county region will be in the path of totality.
“This is a once in a many generations event,” says Dan Schneiderman, the Eclipse Partnership Coordinator at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. When I got a chance to speak with him recently, he was brimming with excitement. “The last total eclipse in Rochester was 99 years ago, in January 1925 and the next one won’t be until 2045 for even a part of our region. This is a can’t miss opportunity, and here at the RMSC we have already been gearing up for several years.”
While many people experienced the 2017 eclipse in Rochester, and the museum was active in preparing events, the region experienced only 70% of totality. “Any one who has experienced totality knows that it is an experience unlike any other, and I can’t wait to be part of this event.”
Dan was eager to describe what totality will be like: “It will get dark, like dusk, and no sun will be visible. The temperature will drop (anywhere from 2 to 10 degrees). Farm animals may go to sleep or head to their barns, birds will nest and there will be sharp shadows.” When I asked Dan about what will happen if its cloudy or rainy, he was quick to answer: “It will still get dark! If it is cloudy, we will miss seeing the sun’s corona, but we will still experience the incredible sudden darkness.” Dan went on: “People who have experienced totality say it is an experience like no other, and are willing to travel over great distances and many continents to experience it again.”
There will be another eclipse in parts of the U.S. in 2045, but the next time there will be an eclipse in even part of New York State will be 2079. “The next eclipse with extended totality here in Rochester will be in 2144. To put that in perspective, if a child was born on the day of the 2024 eclipse, their grandchildren’s grandchildren would be alive to see the next eclipse in 2144.” Dan says.
Not only will the path of totality center right through Rochester, but the period of totality will be a lengthy 3 minutes and 38 seconds. “The longest period of totality for the 2017 eclipse was 2 minutes 40 seconds, and that would have involved driving hundreds of miles from here, “ Dan notes.“Everyone Must Must Must wear eclipse glasses for all of the event except totality,” Dan emphasizes. “We have some eclipse glasses available for sale now at the RMSC from the 2017 partial solar eclipse, and we will be producing many more for this one. We’ll be working with partner organizations to make them available to as many people as possible.” Dan remembers that in 2017, there was a line of cars “stretching back to I490 waiting to get to the museum to get glasses”, and encourages people to start making plans to get them well in advance of April 8, 2024.
Dan also noted the importance of everyone getting involved: “Everyone under the sun is a stakeholder, and we are hoping that everyone will take advantage of this momentous occasion! “We’re going to be working to create partnerships with schools, universities, libraries, and towns. We’ve even going to be encouraging local groups to set up viewing parties in their neighborhoods since the event will be everywhere all at once,” Dan says. “We are especially interested in getting science, art and history teachers involved in planning events before and during the event. Right now, history teachers could be talking about Rochester’s experiences with the 1925 event.”
“Here at the RMSC we’ll have a four day event, with details to be announced later this year.” In addition, they are working on documents with suggestions for local organizations about how to plan their events. “Watch this space,” Dan says.Planning for the 2024 event has already been underway for several years. “There is a stakeholder group co-chaired by Visit Rochester, the Genesee Transportation Council and Deb Ross of Kids Out and About. We are conservatively estimating at least 375,000 visitors to the 9 county region, and maybe as many as 500k”, Dan reports. “Clearly all transportation modes will be impacted, and there are not enough hotel rooms in the region so camp sides and private room rentals will be happening.”
Dan reports that the consortium is reaching out to hospitals, Emergency Management facilities, libraries, and city, county and state governments. “We already know that local breweries, wineries and distilleries are developing special drinks for this event, and we will likely see a big impact on the entire hospitality industry here.”
Right now, the group is focusing on education. “April 8 is a Monday, the first Monday after spring break in the public schools. We are working with state agencies to get spring break extended by a day. We don’t want kids tied up in traffic, and more importantly, we don’t want them to miss the full eclipse experience!”
From studying traffic patterns from the 2017 eclipse, agencies can see that there are considerable traffic issues both before and immediately after the event. “One location, with only one bridge out of it, had a traffic jam lasting 20 hours! In this region, we have lots of roads but we are planning how we can make everything go more smoothly,” Dan reports. “All the transportation agencies are studying past data and working on plans.”
Dan has been the Eclipse Partnership Coordinator officially for a year and a half, but has been part of the larger stakeholder group since 2018. “Since I frequently volunteered at the Museum, and helped organize STEM and STEAM public outreach events, the museum saw me as a good fit when they created this position. Needless to say, I love my job and am super excited about the chance to get a million people excited as well!”
“We want everyone in the region to be aware, prepared and excited,” Dan says. “Its going to be great!”
Now that’s good thing to say about a really big show…..Editor’s Note
I experienced the 2017 eclipse at the RMSC. A sight to behold.