Mohawk Valley Astronomical Society

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Shadow Fever

by Perry Pezzolanella

<p>Did you catch eclipse fever during the Great America Eclipse in August? Do you have a burning desire to see another one? Is the thought of traveling to exotic places too expensive, or too risky, to ponder? Would you rather stay in the U.S.? Would a total eclipse of the Sun seen from Sylvan Beach, Niagara Falls, or even Disney World be just the ticket? Well, you are in luck if the weather and your health (age) permit.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the path of a total solar eclipse is very narrow, often hardly 50 miles wide, even though the path may be thousands of miles long. This makes it almost impossible to wait for totality to pass over your town making it necessary to travel, but not very far for the next one. The total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024 is possibly the best of the total solar eclipses in our lifetimes; totality will pass just west and north of here, so close that it will take less than an hour to drive into totality. The path of totality will enter Texas from Mexico and will cross Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, and northern New England. Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Rochester, Syracuse, Watertown, Massena, and Plattsburgh will be in the path of totality! Even Sylvan Beach, Delta Lake, Boonville, Remsen, and Old Forge will be in the path of totality! It will hopefully be a beautiful spring afternoon as the Moon’s shadow sweeps northeastward around 3:15-3:30 P.M. This eclipse will be worth the short trip as it will last approximately 3 minutes and 45 seconds on the center line near Buffalo and Rochester. Imagine viewing the totally eclipsed Sun above Niagara Falls! If for some reason, one cannot leave Utica to see this eclipse, enjoy the Sun looking like a fingernail crescent about 99% eclipsed. If the 2017 total solar eclipse was missed, this eclipse may well be the best chance for MVAS members to see this awesome phenomenon. There are two more chances in the future, but they will involve travel within the U.S., a generous amount of good luck, and health for most of us. Disney World anyone?</p> <p>The total eclipse of the Sun that is worth living for, if possible, will be the one on August 12, 2045. On that day, an unusually long duration eclipse will cover almost all of Florida. The path of totality will begin in California, will cross Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia before curving and almost completely covering the Florida peninsula. Orlando will be close to the centerline, and Walt Disney World and Universal Studios will be nearly on it. Totality will occur at 1:28 P.M. with the Sun nearly overhead and totality will last 6 minutes and 4 seconds at such iconic locations as Cinderella Castle, Epcot, and Hogwarts Castle. For anyone who does live to see this day and is lucky enough to be in the Orlando area, this will be the longest eclipse within the U.S. in their lifetime and hands down the most memorable.</p> <p>A long shot total solar eclipse for most of us will be a nice one in the Deep South on March 30, 2052. The path of totality barely crosses the U.S. as it will enter the Florida panhandle from the Gulf of Mexico, missing New Orleans and Walt Disney World, and will cross Georgia and part of South Carolina. Savannah, Georgia will be the best location where totality at 3:26 P.M. lasts the longest, 3 minutes and 31 seconds, with the Sun well up in the west. Charleston, South Carolina will experience totality lasting 2 minutes and 49 seconds, but Myrtle Beach will be too far north. The next one will be May 11, 2078 when the Sun will become totally eclipsed soon after sunrise from New York City to Cape Cod. Possibly the most beautiful photo of the Portland Head Light in Maine ever taken will be with a totally eclipsed Sun rising above the Atlantic Ocean. Sadly, most of us will not be around to witness it. </p> <p>No one who has seen a total eclipse of the Sun will argue that it is the most beautiful astronomical event of all. There is no cure for Eclipse Fever once it is contracted. The only antidote is to see another one, that may mean a little traveling, and most important of all, staying healthy. Many will be looking forward to the Great American Eclipse 2 on April 8, 2024!</p>