Not since 1925, will a good portion of the New York State population be able to witness a Total Solar Eclipse of the Sun. New York City, unfortunately, will only get to see a partial eclipse.
For this Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024, the partial phase will start any time after 2pm and end any time after 4:30 pm anywhere in New York State. In between those times is the Total Solar Eclipse (TSE) that last over three minutes on average and can be seen along the eclipse umbral path. The Moon’s umbra is its shadow’s dark cone that travels down to the Earth’s surface. As the spherical tip of the umbra cone traverses across the country, it creates this eclipse path.
Weather! Weather is always an issue whenever trying to observe celestial events. The month of April can be both beautiful and bad as far as clear skies and precipitation. The old saying, April showers bring May flowers holds true. But when the weather is clear, it’s beautiful upstate, there is always so much to see and do. New York has it all, it has lakes, mountains and rivers, and let’s not forget the biggest natural attraction of it all – Niagara Falls. This you will find within the eclipse umbral path, as well as the Finger Lakes, the beaches of Lake Erie, the Adirondack Mountains and Lake Champlain.
Let’s be clear about this – you want to be in the eclipse umbral path! This is where the magic happens and if you are not under the shadow of the Moon, you may not understand what the big deal is about. It’s like standing outside a Ball Park during a baseball game and hearing the crowd cheering not knowing what happened. You might be a little excited about the cheers, but you really need to be inside the park to understand why the crowd was so thrilled with the game. As mentioned before, New York City only gets to see a partial eclipse with 90% of the Sun being covered. Make no mistake, this is the phase of the eclipse from this location that still needs to be filtered from the Sun’s harmful rays.
The logic of Eclipse chasing is to go where the climate and sky conditions are best for viewing. Texas is probably the best place in the U.S. but one could be storm-chasing tornadoes instead of chasing the shadow of the Moon. Then there is always Mexico for the more adventurous folk. Now’s the time to be mindful of the weather being it’s a year away – do your research and planning. But for New York, despite a greater percentage of cloudiness, the Empire State has some beautiful scenery for viewing right in our own backyard.
The April 8, 2024 TSE is part of Saros series 139 and is the 30th of 71 solar eclipses in this series. Every successive Eclipse in a Saros series is separated by a period of 18 years (plus 10 or 11 days and a 1/3 of a day). The Saros is useful for organizing eclipses into families or a series with each being assigned a number. Each series typically lasts 12 to 13 centuries and contains 70 or more eclipses. Every Saros series begins with a partial eclipse near one of Earth’s polar regions. Perhaps more on the Saros and other Eclipse cycles for another day.
Famous New York State Eclipses:
1806, June 16th: José Joaquín de Ferrer y Cafranga was a Spanish Basque astronomer and he was part of the first Spanish solar eclipse expeditions. He journeyed to Cuba in 1803 and to New York State in 1806 and observed the two solar eclipses successfully. In the description of the solar eclipse in 1806 observed from Kinderhook, New York he coined the word “corona” for the bright ring observable during a total eclipse.
1925, January 24th: the Famous New York City Eclipse. The Southern limit passed somewhere through Manhattan: exact line between 95 and 97th Streets. Observers stationed at every intersection between 72nd and 135th Streets. The day was cold and the skies were clear. Millions of people witnessed the Eclipse. This was also the eclipse that gave rise to the now popular term “Diamond Ring Effect.” Since the southern edge of totality crossed upper Manhattan, those who were located just outside the eclipse track saw a single bright bead of sunlight persist through the maximum phase of the eclipse, while the inner corona was also visible.