The 2024 Solar Eclipse in the Sugar River Region

August 21, 2017 Eclipse. Image Credit: blewulis on Canva.

The 2024 Solar Eclipse in the Sugar River Region

About The Solar Eclipse 

On April 8, 2024, New Hampshire will be one of thirteen states lucky enough to experience the solar eclipse! Solar eclipses are rare phenomena that occur when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, casting its shadow upon us for a few minutes of darkness. This manifests in various forms, such as total eclipses, where the Moon completely covers the Sun. Partial eclipses are where only a portion of the Sun is obscured. Annular eclipses are distinguished by a ring-like appearance as the Moon covers the central portion of the Sun.

Solar Eclipse and Earth. Image Credit: buradaki on Canva.

The scientific marvel behind eclipses lies in the precise alignment of the Sun, Moon, and Earth, resulting in a momentary blackout or dimming of sunlight. Such events not only showcase the intricate mechanics of our solar system but also inspire awe and wonder, connecting us to the vastness and beauty of the universe. This year’s solar eclipse presents an exciting opportunity.  The last time a direct solar eclipse happened over New Hampshire was in 1959, and won’t happen again until 2079! 

What To Expect During the Solar Eclipse in the Sugar River Region

While the total eclipse unfortunately won’t be visible in southern New Hampshire, we still get to see a partial eclipse with 95% coverage of the Sun, which will be an amazing experience nonetheless. (If you would like to see the total eclipse with 100% coverage of the Sun, you’ll have to travel even farther north than Berlin, NH!). Check out this incredible simulation that previews what we will be seeing in the Sugar River Region that day. For more on the total solar eclipse, be sure to take a look at this presentation by the NH Travel Council in 2022, provided by Visit NH.  

Eclipse Coverage Map Over NH. Image Credit: Visit NH.

During the total eclipse, you should expect to spend just over 3 minutes in darkness from the moon’s light blocking. Those of us in the partial coverage areas won’t be in total darkness, but we’ll still spend the same amount of time in the shadows. 

Solar Eclipse Safety and Preparation

For the best and clearest viewing of the eclipse, there are myriad places in the Sugar River Region with great vantage points. You don’t want to specifically look for high points of elevation, because you might run into cloudy weather, which would be a bummer. Some of the best locations for a community viewing would be public gathering spaces, such as the town greens in Claremont and Newport, the harbor in Sunapee, and other flat areas like around the Fort at No. 4 (parking lot) or  the Congregational Church in Acworth and the Cornish Flat. Do also keep in mind that April weather can be unpredictable – so be prepared for any condition and check the forecast ahead of time! One last tip is to arrive early and plan to stay, as you don’t want to be on the roads during the eclipse or risk getting stuck in traffic and missing it. 

Young Woman Watching Eclipse Wearing Eclipse Glasses. Image Credit: Fabian Montano on Canva.

When planning your outing to see the solar eclipse, you must be sure to have proper eye protection. The safest way to view a solar eclipse is by using specially designed solar viewing glasses or solar filters. These glasses and filters are equipped with special-purpose solar filters that block harmful ultraviolet, visible, and infrared radiation. When choosing solar viewing glasses, ensure they meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. Regular sunglasses, homemade filters, or improvised solutions like smoked glass or CDs are not safe for viewing a solar eclipse. Using cameras, binoculars, or telescopes to directly view the Sun without proper solar filters can also cause severe eye damage. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce for solar eclipse glasses as they will have plenty to go around (and are for free!). Or, you can check out the National Eclipse Store for glasses and resources. 

Solar Eclipse Over A Field. Image Credi: Rolf Wittke on Canva.

Local Solar Eclipse Events and Activities 

Currently, there aren’t any official chamber events scheduled for the Solar Eclipse. However, Whaleback Mountain is hosting a Solar Eclipse Party from noon to 5 pm! Be sure to keep an eye out for any other last minute planned events and get outside! This is a spectacle that no one should miss! In fact, the NH legislature is considering giving schools the day off to view the solar eclipse and learn about this rare phenomenon. Everyone should take the opportunity to view such a special natural event.

Written by Madeline Ferland on March 14, 2024.