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Solar eclipse basics

Everything you need to know about the April 8, 2024, eclipse

What happens during a total solar eclipse? 

The eclipse will take place on April 8, 2024. In the (585), the eclipse begins at 2:07 p.m. At that time, the moon begins to cover up the sun.

Totality—when the moon completely covers the sun—starts at 3:20 p.m. 

Totality will last for three minutes and thirty-eight seconds within the heart of Rochester. The length of totality is based on where you’re standing in the path of the eclipse. During that time, the sky will darken to the point that stars are visible. 

Details on how long totality will last where you are can be found here: map/2024-april-8.

The eclipse ends at 4:33 p.m. 

At the time of the eclipse, the sun will be in the southwestern sky, slightly more than halfway up from the horizon to the overhead point. 

As totality approaches, the edge of night can be seen approaching at a terrific speed.

Viewing safety 

During the eclipse, it is unsafe to look directly at the sun unless you’re wearing eclipse glasses or using a solar filter that follow the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 12312- 2:2015 standard. During totality, you can remove your eclipse glasses and look directly at the sun as it will be blocked out by the moon.

To watch the eclipse before and after totality, a pinhole projector is also useful. In a pinch, a colander or a Ritz cracker will do the trick. Do not use these items to look at the sun. Rather, use these items to project the eclipse onto a piece of paper or the ground. Do NOT look at the sun using sunglasses, color film, medical X-ray film, smoked glass, floppy disks, or any other item not approved by the ISO. 

A great place to learn about eclipse viewing safety is

Where to view 

There is no best place to watch the total solar eclipse as long as you’re in the path of totality. If you’re atop hills or tall buildings, you may be able to watch the shadow approach. Otherwise, any area where there aren’t a lot of tall obstructions like trees and buildings will work, too. 

Plan ahead, so that you can anticipate driving time (there will be traffic!) to the area you want to go. 

If, as may happen, it is cloudy on eclipse day, you may be able to travel to clear skies on I-90 from Buffalo to Syracuse without leaving the path of totality. Again, be aware that the roads will be very busy on April 8. But even if it is cloudy where you are, the sky will still darken and there will be observable changes in the sky. You never know if or when the clouds will part at the very last second, granting you a view of totality. If you want to watch the eclipse as part of the community, the Rochester Museum and Science Center (RMSC) has many fun programs that day for folks who want to share the experience. See our Do List on page ## for eclipse events in our area and visit for more eclipse facts.

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