April 5, 2024Solar Eclipse in Lancaster City

After seven years of waiting for another solar eclipse to take over Lancaster City, the time is finally here! Make sure to head outside on April 8, 2024 at 2 p.m. to witness the event of the season. To ensure you are informed on all things solar eclipse before the big event, the North Museum in Lancaster City has you covered with all you need to know!

Before heading outside to witness the solar eclipse, Taylor Lanier, the senior astronomy and planetarium educator at the North Museum of Nature and Science in Lancaster City, explains that there is much to know about this astronomical event.

If you aren’t sure what a solar eclipse is, Lanier explains that it occurs when the Sun, Earth and Moon all align. “A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Sun and Earth which then casts a shadow on Earth that can either fully or partially block the sunlight.”

She also explains that the eclipse in 2017 and the one occurring in 2024 are the same type of eclipse, as they are both total solar eclipses, but there are a few minor differences between the two. “The Moon was a bit further away from the Earth during the 2017 total solar eclipse, which caused the path of totality to be thinner than the path of totality in the 2024 total solar eclipse. In fact, the path of the 2024 eclipse will range from 108 to 122 miles wide in comparison to the 2017 eclipse that ranged from 62 to 71 miles wide. This idea means that the eclipse will cover more ground which also means that it will pass over even more cities!”

“Another difference is the time of totality. The longest period of totality for the 2017 eclipse was only 2 minutes and 42 seconds in Carbondale, Illinois. For this year’s total eclipse, the longest period of totality will last about 4 minutes and 28 seconds near northwest Torreón, Mexico. In the United States, totality will last about 4 minutes and 26 seconds as the eclipse enters Texas at the center of the eclipse’s path,” Lanier explains.

Although Lancaster City won’t experience a total solar eclipse as the city is not in the path of totality, residents and visitors will still experience about 90% of coverage. “Since we are not in the path of totality, or the area covered by the Moon’s inner shadow, here in Lancaster City, the eclipse will be a deep partial with a magnitude of 91.5%. Partial solar eclipses happen when the Moon comes between the Sun and Earth though they are not perfectly lined up. So, this fact means that the Sun will only be partially covered, giving off a crescent-like shape. The eclipse will start in Lancaster around 2:06 pm with the maximum period around 3:22 p.m. and ending around 4:34 p.m.,” Lanier notes.

If you are planning to witness this astronomical event, make sure you are taking all the necessary safety precautions to protect your eyes! Lanier emphasizes the importance of not looking at the sun at all even through a telescope, camera lens or binoculars as your eyesight can be seriously damaged to the point of blindness. If you do want to look at the sun, make sure you are wearing eclipse glasses specifically made for solar viewing as they are much darker than sunglasses. Lanier makes sure to note that the only time you can safely look at the sun is when the moon completely blocks the Sun.

As April 8th is quickly approaching, there are a few activities for all residents and visitors to participate in! First, Lancaster Public Library is holding a viewing event for the eclipse. Everyone is welcome as it is free and open to the public.

Additionally, the North Museum is having a special opening for the eclipse where visitors can view the total eclipse in the planetarium! There will also be solar telescopes available for visitors to get an up-close look at the sun.

Tellus360 is also holding an event on their rooftop to view the eclipse! The first 50 people will be provided with free glasses. The Saws of Sushi Sang will be open and serving food as well.

As Lancaster City welcomes the solar eclipse on April 8th, it offers an unmissable experience! Explore the various vantage points across the city, ensuring you secure a spot to witness this remarkable event.