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This City in New York's Finger Lakes Is in the Path of the Total Solar Eclipse in April — Here's How to Plan Your Trip

Rochester, New York, will be in the path of totality for three minutes and 38 seconds. Here's how the Finger Lakes city is celebrating.

<p>Courtesy of The Rochester Museum & Science Center</p>

Courtesy of The Rochester Museum & Science Center

On Monday, April 8, a total solar eclipse will be visible from a number of states, as well as Mexico and Canada. Although eclipses occur regularly, the peak of darkness (when the moon covers the sun and the sun’s corona become visible) will last longer than most and the sun is expected to be more active, putting on quite a show. And because this one crosses the U.S. — a rarity — it’s being touted as the Great American Eclipse.

Local eclipse task forces in many of the 13 states in the path of totality have spent years planning activities and organizing viewing opportunities, including Rochester, New York, where some communities will experience a full three minutes and 38 seconds of totality. (It’s only during this time frame, when the moon completely blocks the sun, that people can temporarily remove eclipse-viewing safety glasses without damaging the retina.)

<p>DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images</p>

DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

Rochester, and many of its surrounding communities in western New York, began planning for the big day seven years ago and will roll out a series of events that include performances, exhibits, family activities, speakers, and a three-day festival at Rochester’s science museum and planetarium. Here are some of the highlights.

 

The Rochester Museum & Science Center (RSMC)

The RSMC will host a jam-packed three-day festival, ROC The Eclipse, that will include speakers, stage entertainment, food trucks, and interactive activities for all ages and abilities—including science experiments and solar telescope viewing. RSMC will also make an open-source auditory tool, developed at Harvard University, which will be available to the visually impaired. “This is a device we developed for solar eclipses,” said Allyson Bieryla, astronomer and founder of the LightSound project at Harvard. “It's a sonification tool. So essentially it converts light to sound based on real data.”

RSMC’s Strasenburgh Planetarium will be regularly running its new show, Eclipse 2024!, and during the evening hours of Saturday, April 6, will host Galactic Getdown, a 21+ event with a silent disco, space bar trivia, and eclipse-themed drinks.

<p>Courtesy of The Rochester Museum & Science Center</p>

Courtesy of The Rochester Museum & Science Center

Genesee Country Village & Museum (GCV&M)

Midway between Rochester and Buffalo, in the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes, this living history museum will host three days of activities leading up to and including viewing the eclipse. A contender for the most-unique viewing location, the public can purchase VIP tickets to experience the eclipse from one of GCV&M’s many historic structures that have been relocated here from around the region. (Tickets are also available for less-private viewing locations away from any city lights.) Special programming, performances, and activities will take place throughout the recreated  19th-century village as part of its Solar Spectacular festival, which explores how Americans living in the 1800s viewed, understood, and recorded total solar eclipses.

Ganondagan State Historic Site

<p>Alex Hamer/Courtesy of Ganondagan State Historic Site</p>

Alex Hamer/Courtesy of Ganondagan State Historic Site

For those seeking to view the eclipse as Native Americans once did, drive about 30 minutes southeast of Rochester to the Ganondagan State Historic Site. Here you can explore the history, culture, and art of the Haudenosaunee, comprised of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk nations. It’s believed by many that this five-nation confederacy, considered by many to be North America’s oldest living democracy, was formed during a total (or near total) solar eclipse, and marked the beginning of peace among the nations.

Strong Museum of Play

One of Rochester’s favorite spots, for visitors and locals alike, is this massive museum dedicated to the art of play. From April 1 to 8, the Strong Museum of Play, which recently debuted a new expansion, will host a celebration looking at space through the lens of play. This will include space-themed toys, making paper rockets, and hands-on activities and crafts.

<p>Courtesy of The Strong, Rochester, New York</p>

Courtesy of The Strong, Rochester, New York

George Eastman Museum

From Saturday, April 6, until Monday, April 8, the George Eastman Museum will feature a three-day program called “Focus, Click, Totality!” The exhibit will include eclipse-related photos and pinhole cameras from the museum's collection, live organ music, and films screened in the museum's historic Dryden Theatre. Visitors can also make their own pinhole camera and sun prints.

Tyler Nordgren Art Exhibit

Well-known eclipse artist Tyler Nordgren created a series of posters commemorating the arrival of the eclipse in western New York. The 30-poster exhibit, which includes works focused on local and national parks, has been on display at locations in and around Rochester for the past year. Catch some of the artwork at Rainbow Gallery at Tower Fine Arts Center.

Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) will take center stage at the Blue Cross Arena on Sunday, April 7, for a multimedia concert featuring classic and contemporary science fiction–themed music, a laser light show, and a video wall. In addition to new compositions written for the event by Tyzik, the concert will feature music from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Alien,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.” There will also be special appearances by the Rochester City Ballet, the Troupe Vertigo aerialists, and a Rochester community chorus.

For something less traditional, check out the Soltality Music Festival in the Rochester suburb of Brockport, which is dead center in the path of totality. The festival will feature live music, food trucks, art vendors, and more. And, if you can’t make either concert, you can “ROC out” to songs about the sun, moon, and outer space by streaming the ROC the Eclipse playlist on Spotify, curated by Visit Rochester.

More Information

For additional details on stargazing (and sun-gazing and moon-gazing) locations, accommodations, food and drink specials that include a specially brewed eclipse craft beer, sporting events, and other things to do, check out Visit Rochester’s 2024 Great Solar Eclipse website.

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