2024 Eclipse in Rochester, NY: Family Friendly Fun | Kids Out and About Rochester <

2024 Eclipse in Rochester, NY: Family Friendly Fun

by Debra Ross

The Great North American Solar Eclipse, which takes place on April 8, 2024 will be a once-in-many-generations event for much of the U.S. and Canada. Each region has its own fun activities planned to help families make the most of this amazing experience to create memories for a lifetime, way beyond the few minutes of totality. Here are the best ways families living in, or traveling to, Rochester NY can make the very most of this experience.

 

Help kids learn what will happen 

  • On April 8, 2024, at 2:07pm, the Rochester area will experience "First Contact"--when the Moon starts to move over the face of the Sun.
     
  • For the next hour and 13 minutes, the Moon will move upward and to the left over the Sun. This is called the "partial" phase of the eclipse. All of North America outside the path of totality will only see a partial eclipse. You must use eclipse glasses or similar ISO-certified device in order to see the Sun during the partial phase.
     
  • You won't really notice a change in the amount of light around you until the Sun is about 99% covered by the Moon. In the last minute of the partial eclipse, the world will go dark very suddenly.
     
  • In the Rochester area, at 3:20pm, for approximately 3 minutes and 38 seconds--give or take a few seconds depending on where you are standing in the path of totality, the Moon will completely cover the Sun.
     
  • If there are no clouds covering the Sun, you'll see the corona of the Sun streaming around the dark Moon. It will look like a velvet hole in the sky. Around the eclipse, the sky will be midnight blue, you may see a few stars. All around the horizon, you'll see a sunset glow of red and gold. The world around you will darken to a deep twilight (it will feel like an hour after sunset).
     
  • If it is a cloudy day, you will not be able to witness the partial phases of the eclipse, but during totality, the world will plunge into pitch darkness. This is a different experience than totality on a sunny day, but no less profound and meaningful.

Prepare to experience the eclipse safely

  • Except during totality (when really what we're looking at is the Moon), we should never look directly at the Sun because of the risk of permanent eye damage. During the partial phases before and after totality, you must use ISO-certified solar filter glasses. So unless you're attending an eclipse event that provides classes, make sure to purchase approved ISO-certified solar filter glasses from a reputable source (not Amazon!). You can get these locally, at the Rochester Museum & Science Center, and at several other locations round town. Some local libraries may be giving away free glasses; call to ask. If purchasing online, use one of the suppliers approved by the American Astronomical Society on this page, under "resellers."
     
  • You can also use a pinhole projector to project an image of the Sun through a small hole (or many small holes, as in a colander) onto the ground. The image of the eclipse will change as the Moon travels over the face of the Sun.
     
  • Only during totality can you remove the glasses and look skyward at the eclipse directly: Indeed, you MUST remove those glasses to see the total eclipse; if you don't, you won't see anything!

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Plan a ME eclipse or a WE eclipse experience

There are two main kinds of eclipse experiences:

  • "WE Eclipses," in which you're surrounded by many people at a festival or celebration, and
     
  • "ME Eclipses," in which you're by yourself or with a few loved ones, experiencing the serenity of the natural world and your unique place in that universe.

Parents preparing their families for this experience need to choose the kind of venue that best suits their families. Some people are just not "crowd" people, or even just prefer to have a quiet, contemplative experience. Others prefer to have the bonding experience in a large community, where they'll be surrounded by screams as the Sun is blotted out by the Moon and the world turns dark.

WE ECLIPSE EVENTS

The Rochester area has options for all types of eclipse experiences. For "We" experiences, think FESTIVALS.

 

ME ECLIPSE EXPERIENCES

For those looking for "Me" experiences, our area has a number of parks that, while not hosting larger events, present picturesque viewing spots. Mendon Ponds Park in Pittsford, Mendon, and Honeoye Falls; Durand Eastman Park; in Irondequoit; Ontario Beach Park at the Charlotte pier in the City of Rochester; Webster Park in Webster; Fair Haven Beach State Park in Fair Haven; Hamlin Beach State Park in Hamlin; and Letchworth State Park in Mount Morris / Castile.

But HOME is wonderful too! Gather a few people you love, prepare some fun eclipse-themed food and drinks. Get your eclipse glasses plenty of time in advance, as well as eclipse-themed clothes and merchandise. Make sure that your viewing location is far away from any photo-sensitive streetlights that might turn on automatically when the world turns dark. Also adjust any lights in and around your home that turn on in the dark; you don't want any light to disrupt your total darkness experience during totality, especially if it's cloudy. Even if you choose your home as your eclipse location for Monday, be sure to get out and about during the weekend prior to the eclipse... the Rochester area has something for every age, taste, and interest!

 

ROCHESTER-AREA EVENTS THAT COMBINE WE ECLIPSE AND ME ECLIPSE EXPERIENCES

Some families have a mixture of members who prefer "Me" eclipse experiences and those who prefer "We" eclipse experiences. What to do? Rochester has you covered! Several venues are spread on large areas that allow for some family members to gather with hundreds or thousands of others for a "We" eclipse while others can wander off to be more on their own in nature for a "Me" eclipse.

  • Genesee Country Village & Museum, the Rochester area's 19th-century living history village located 20 miles southwest of Rochester in Mumford, presents a 3-day Solar Spectacle festival April 5-8, providing glimpses into what 19th-century life in Western New York was like during a total solar eclipse. They are even providing the ability for groups to rent one of the many houses on their campus for the day of the eclipse.
     
  • Stokoe Farms, located 12 miles southwest of Rochester in Scottsville, is hosting a one-day Dark Side of the Farm festival. Details will be released soon.
     
  • Eighteen miles southeast of Rochester, in Victor, NY, Ganondagan State Historic Site is a Native American interpretive site set on the grounds of a 17th-century Seneca town. They will be hosting events all weekend, and a public (though low-key) event on the afternoon of the eclipse. Guests can wander Ganondagan's 569 acres for a solitary experience or gather for a serene experience. Details will be coming soon.
     

Plan to make memories the entire weekend, not just Monday April 8

Whether you're visiting Rochester from near or far or live here, your weekend experience will be packed! There's an itinerary for everyone! While the hard part will be figuring out how to fit in everything you want to do, the good news is: YOU CAN COME BACK! We're not going anywhere.

Family-friendly art experiences

  • Eclipse artist and astronomer Dr. Tyler Nordgren, whose 2017 eclipse artwork was acquired for the Smithsonian's permanent collection, has designed several posters for the Rochester area as well as New York State's 2024 eclipse poster. A 30-poster collection of his eclipse artwork has been traveling around the Rochester area in a different location each month since April of 2023. The travel schedule is linked here; during eclipse weekend, that exhibit will be on display at the Rochester Museum & Science Center.
     
  • On Sunday, April 7, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra will present a Solar Spectacular concert at the Blue Cross Arena in downtown Rochester. This is a not-to-be missed event unlike any in the orchestra's history. Eminent composer Jeff Tyzik, who is also the RPO's pops conductor, will present the world premiere of his new Eclipse Suite to an amazing light show; the concert program will also include space-themed favorites like 2001: A Space Odyssey, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Alien, Star Wars, and Holst's The Planets. For several hours before the concert, the arena will feature family-friendly hands-on learning experiences. Get your tickets here.
     
  • On Saturday and Sunday, April 6-7, at 2pm each day, Calkins Road Middle School in Pittsford will present an original, full-length eclipse-themed musical called Midnight at Midday: The Musical Tales of an Eclipse. Perfect for any age audience.
     
  • Sunday, April 7 at 5pm, Scents by Design, on Univrsity Ave in Rochester, will host a Total Solar Eclipse Candle Making & Chocolate Tasting event. You will leave with a candle, Totality Chocolates, and with a new perspective on chocolate!
     
  • The Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester will have a viewing party on Monday, April 8 called Soleil Soirée; their Creative Workshop will feature make-and-take eclipse-themed arts and crafts experiences all weekend
     

Plan to keep memories alive with takeaways

What communities in the path of the 2017 Great American Eclipse learned is that people want mementos of where they were when they had their totality experience. Many venues around the Rochester area will have terrific keepsakes available for purchase that will preserve your Rochester eclipse experience for the rest of your life. From apparel to bags to Christmas ornaments, to drinkware, home decor, plus candy, coffee, wine and beer, you'll never be at a loss for things to remind you of where you were for totality. You can also purchase merchandise online at in the Rochester section of eclipsemerchandise.com.


©2024, KidsOutAndAbout.com

Debra Ross is publisher of KidsOutAndAbout.com, Chair of Rochester's Eclipse Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Solar Eclipse Task Force of the American Astronomical Society



See below for upcoming eclipse-themed events that have been posted to KidsOutAndAbout.com's Rochester-area calendar, both for eclipse weekend and in the weeks preceding!