GUEST COLUMN: Preparing for the solar eclipse

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By Deputy County Executive Lisa Chimera

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will be visible in Erie County. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, with the most recent total solar eclipse happening in Western New York way back in 1925. The next total solar eclipse in the United States will not be visible again until 2044. With Buffalo and Erie County in the path of totality, we expect large crowds and an influx of tourists to visit our region.

The eclipse brings great opportunity for our businesses and the hospitality sector, as well as a unique learning experience for students of all ages. A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, blocking the light from the sun. During the 2024 eclipse, Western New York will be in the path of totality, meaning the moon will completely block the face of the sun, and the sky will darken as if it were dawn or dusk.

As the moon begins its path across the sun, we will begin to experience a partial eclipse around 2:04 p.m. Totality will last from 3:18 to 3:22 p.m., with the sun becoming fully visible again at 4:32 p.m. The only time you can look at a total eclipse safely is during the brief phase of a total solar eclipse, when the moon completely blocks the sun. It is not safe to look at the sun through camera lenses, binoculars or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics.

You can get safety glasses, courtesy of Erie County from the Buffalo Museum of Science, or at your local public library. Please call ahead to confirm availability. You can also purchase your own eclipse safety glasses from a retailer, making sure that they have the certification “ISO 12312-2” and that they are not scratched or damaged in any way.

With the increased traffic from tourists coming to Erie County, it is very important to plan ahead and to allow for extra travel time. Many people on the roads could disrupt normal travel paths and cause traffic delays. If you plan to watch the eclipse from a public location, like a county park, carpool if possible, and check for important travel updates. NFTA will also be operating routes to designated eclipse viewing areas, like Sahlen Field and the Williamsville Space Lab Planetarium.

If you choose a venue that allows them, take along water and snacks. You can consider packing first aid supplies, bug spray, portable chargers and extra medication. Be sure to have clothing and footwear appropriate for the weather and conditions. It’s important to remember that temperatures can drop anywhere from 10 to 20 degrees during totality, just as it becomes cooler at nighttime.

As we look forward to this exciting event, keep an eye out for community events and educational opportunities. You can find out more information about the eclipse at With that, let the countdown until April 8 begin!