Life & Style

Everything you need to know about the total solar eclipse

Everything you need to know about the total solar eclipse

Learn how to make the most out of your experience during the historic solar eclipse on April 8.

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The total solar eclipse will pass over Syracuse on April 8, and students and faculty alike are gearing up to witness this rare natural phenomenon.

For Matti Burke, a senior at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, the eclipse is something she and her friends are looking forward to, as the next total eclipse will not occur in the contiguous United States until 2044. 

“It’s something that comes around pretty infrequently, so it’s a very special thing to be a part of and share with your friends. I’m so excited,” Burke said.

What is the solar eclipse?

According to NASA, a total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, completely blocking out the face of the sun. For a mere three minutes, the sky will go completely dark, as if it’s dawn or dusk. There are about two solar eclipses every three years, but for one to be visible in Syracuse, the sun, moon and Earth must align at the perfect time. 

“Because the moon is so small, this alignment has to be exactly perfect for us to get a total solar eclipse,” physics professor Walter Freeman said. “The shadow only falls on a tiny little band of Earth. We are lucky enough to include Central New York this time.”

According to Freeman, at one time, people believed that eclipses were an omen of horror. They saw the sun as their life-giver. So, when it disappeared in the middle of the day, people were understandably terrified of their life source being taken away. Thousands of years later, humans have made enough astronomical discoveries to understand an eclipse as a beautiful part of nature, not a sign the world is ending. 

“Millions of people are going to look up at the same time and say, ‘Wow, that’s beautiful,”’ Freeman said. “This is a thing nature does. We’ve kind of come through the period of fear and are now saying, ‘This is an amazing thing to wonder at.'”

How can I view the eclipse safely?

The eclipse, while beautiful, can damage one’s eyesight if they’re not careful. It’s recommended that those looking forward to the eclipse plan ahead, both to protect their eyesight and make the most out of the experience.

The total eclipse will last around three minutes. During this time, it is necessary to wear eclipse glasses, which will be available on the quad. However, for about one minute, viewers are able to look directly at the eclipse because the sun will be totally covered by the moon. This is referred to as “totality.”

Where can I view the eclipse?

There are a number of fun ways students can view the eclipse. On the quad from 1:30 to 4 p.m., the College of Arts and Sciences will be celebrating with a variety of activities and education booths.

If you prefer to go off-campus, there are plenty of places to go with your closest friends. Harvey’s Garden is hosting their own eclipse viewing party on Monday starting at 1 p.m. with food trucks, live music and drink specials. The Syracuse Mets are also hosting a watch party at the NBT Bank Stadium starting at 2 p.m.

“I’m preparing by getting together with all of my friends. We’re planning to go to a high point around Syracuse,” Burke said. “I know a lot of people are going to the Thornden [Park] sunset spot to hang out and watch the eclipse.”

While Freeman understands the urge to capture this rare event, he urges students to live in the moment, as opposed to stress about getting the perfect social media image. 

“I worry people are going to worry about getting a picture for Instagram and not actually being themselves in the moment,” Freeman said. “Don’t miss the moment to look up.”