Tips from a Palmyra Local: Viewing the 2024 Eclipse

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Experience the awe-inspiring 2024 solar eclipse from the charming town of Palmyra, New York. Gain insider tips and insights from a local’s perspective on the best places to view this rare celestial event.

During the total solar eclipse on April 8th, 2024, the sky will transform as the moon casts its shadow on the Earth. This is a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event you’ll want to see, and my hometown of Palmyra, New York, is one of the prime locations to witness this spectacular event. Palmyra offers several great locations to watch the eclipse, including parks and open fields. I’ve even heard some local businesses and groups are planning eclipse-viewing events and gatherings.

With its scenic beauty and friendly community, Palmyra is the perfect place to witness this unique celestial phenomenon. Today, I am sharing my tips and thoughts as a local so you can make the most of your eclipse viewing experience in Palmyra, New York.

Full sun eclipse, total solar eclipse. Adobe Stock Image

The total solar eclipse in Palmyra will begin with a partial phase, gradually transitioning into darkness as the moon covers the sun entirely. Throughout this event, you’ll experience the world around you changing—a dramatic plunge in temperature, unique animal behaviors, and a rare opportunity to see stars in the daytime sky. Always use eye protection, such as eclipse glasses, to ensure your safety during the event.

Choosing the right spot in Palmyra for eclipse viewing will maximize your experience. Ensure you have a clear sky view and plan by checking the weather forecast as the date draws closer to ensure favorable conditions for the big day.

Palmyra “Queen of the Canaltowns”

Palmyra is a small town loaded with historical charm and a friendly community. Its proximity to major cities like Rochester, and the picturesque Finger Lakes region will make planning other excursions after the solar event easy, while allowing you to enjoy a less crowded environment during the eclipse. The geographic position of Palmyra within the path of totality guarantees an amazing view of the eclipse.

The map below illustrates the narrow path of totality across New York State. The blue middle line represents the eclipse centerline, where totality lasts the longest in each state. The red lines show the path of totality entering and exiting each state. To experience the total phase of the eclipse in each state, you must be within the red lines. The closer you are to the blue centerline, the longer totality will last. Areas outside the path of totality will get a partial solar eclipse only.

Eclipse Duration in Palmyra New York

First Contact

In Palmyra, NY, the 2024 total solar eclipse will begin with the first contact when the moon starts to cover the sun. This exciting moment will occur around 2:11 PM on April 8, 2024. Be prepared with your solar viewing glasses and look up as the moon takes its first “bite” out of the sun. This partial phase will last for quite a while before totality is reached.

Totality Phase

The most anticipated part of the eclipse, the totality phase, will occur at approximately 3:20 PM in Palmyra. During totality, the moon will completely cover the sun, creating a breathtaking sight that can only be truly appreciated in person. The sky will darken dramatically, allowing you to see stars and planets in the middle of the day. At this point, removing your solar viewing glasses and observing the stunning solar corona is safe. Totality in Palmyra is expected to last around 3 minutes, so make the most of this rare opportunity.

Last Contact

The totality phase will end as the moon continues its journey across the sun. At around 3:24 PM, the sun will gradually reemerge from behind the moon. This moment, known as the last contact, will mark the beginning of the final partial phase of the eclipse. Put your solar viewing glasses back on to observe the remainder of the event safely. The eclipse will conclude once the moon completely leaves the sun’s path, allowing the afternoon sky to return to its normal, bright state.

Viewing the Eclipse Safely

The duration of the 2024 solar eclipse will vary depending on the location along the eclipse path. The maximum duration of totality anywhere along the path will be 4 minutes and 28 seconds, while in other areas it will be shorter. The eclipse will begin with the first contact and end with the last contact, which will take longer.

Eye Protection Essentials

When viewing the 2024 total solar eclipse in Palmyra, NY, you must always protect your eyes. Use solar filter glasses specifically designed for eclipse viewing. These glasses must meet ISO 12312-2 certification for proper eye protection. Never use ordinary sunglasses or homemade filters; they won’t protect you adequately.

If you plan to observe the eclipse through a telescope or binoculars, ensure your equipment is outfitted with solar filters. Always attach the filters to the front of your viewing device and inspect them for any scratches or damage before use.

Palmyra Attractions and Dining

If you are looking for some fun and unique things to do in Palmyra before of after the eclipse, I have a few recommendations for you! Palmyra is steeped in history and boasts a wealth of historical sites and landmarks. From its association with Joseph Smith and the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to its role in the Erie Canal era, Palmyra has played a significant role in shaping the history of the United States.

  • Historic Palmyra Museum-The Historic Palmyra Museum, located in Palmyra, New York, is a former hotel and tavern that now houses 23 themed rooms of memories and memorabilia. The museum showcases over 200 years of American history and bears witness to Palmyra’s influence on it. Visitors can explore the exhibits that range from the Civil War to the Erie Canal and learn about the history of the area. 
  • Phelps General Store-The Phelps General Store in Palmyra, NY is a historic museum that has served the needs of Palmyrans and Erie “Canawlers” as a boarding house, tavern, bakery, and general store since its construction in 1826. The store was owned and renovated by proprietor William Phelps in the late 1800s, and subsequently left untouched by his son Julius who locked the doors in 1940, leaving a curious retail time capsule. Today, visitors can explore the store and see its preserved merchandise, fixtures, and decor from a bygone era. The Phelps General Store is one of the many museums operated by the Historic Palmyra organization and is located at 140 Market Street in Palmyra.
  • Hill Cumorah & Visitors Center-The Hill Cumorah & Visitors Center, located on Route 21, is a sacred site for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is believed to be the place where an angel showed Joseph Smith Jr. where to find the golden plates from which the Book of Mormon would be translated. The site includes a visitors’ center at the bottom of the hill and a monument at the top of the hill. The visitors’ center offers a self-guided tour including exhibits covering the story of the Restoration and early Church. Visitors can also take a walk up the hill to the monument erected to honor the angel Moroni. The Hill Cumorah & Visitors Center is open to the public and offers a unique insight into the history and beliefs of the Latter-day Saints. 
  • Smith Family Farm-The Smith Family Farm in Palmyra, New York, is a historic site that was the boyhood home of Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The farm includes several buildings, such as the restored frame home of the Smiths, a reconstructed log home, and a barn. Visitors can also see the Sacred Grove, which is believed to be the location where Joseph Smith received his first vision from God. The farm is open to the public for tours and visitors can learn about the Smith family, their daily life, and the early history of the Church. The Smith Family Farm is an important site for Latter-day Saints and a significant part of American religious history.
  • Erie Canal Lock 29– Just off route 31 this canal lock has a 16 foot lift and a very pretty spillway. Located nearby is an aqueduct that was constructed in 1856. The aqueduct stretches to a length of 94 feet and is supported by three 24-foot spans that cross Ganargua Creek. The aqueduct served as a foot bridge for the Erie Canal Trail, but was closed in 2021 when engineers discovered cracks in one of the spans that support the crossing during a routine inspection. Work has been ongoing but it is unclear if the aqueduct will be saved or there are other plans.
  • Alling Coverlet Museum-The Alling Coverlet Museum, located in Palmyra, New York, is one of the five museums in the Historic Palmyra Museum Complex. It features the largest collection of American handwoven coverlets in the United States and is named after Mrs. Merle Alling, a Rochester resident and coverlet collector. The museum is housed in a 1901 newspaper printing office and showcases an impressive 500 bed-sized coverlets, as well as a few quilts. All styles of handwoven coverlets from different periods are on display. It is an official Path Through History Site and is open to the public.
  • Book of Mormon Publication Site-It was here, in the early 19th century, that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, which is considered to be a sacred text by members of the church. The site is located on Main Street in Palmyra and includes a replica of the printing press that was used to print the first edition of the Book of Mormon in 1830. Visitors can take a guided tour of the site and learn about the history of the book’s publication, as well as the early days of the church. The site is open to the public and is a popular destination for those interested in religious history.

Looking to grab a bite to eat? Palmyra offers a few dining options, from casual cafes to ice cream stands with a cult following. Whether you are looking for a quick bite or a sit-down meal with friends and family, Palmyra has something for everyone. I have compiled some of the best places to eat in Palmyra, based on their menu, ambiance, and my personal experiences. Be sure to check out these top dining spots in Palmyra.

  • Chill & Grill– Chill & Grill is an immensely popular ice cream destination. The small restaurant offers a variety of American-style cuisine, including burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches, along with their version of the local favorite the Garbage Plate. The restaurant has a casual and welcoming atmosphere, with both indoor and outdoor seating available. Chill N Grill is known for its friendly service and massive serving sizes of ice cream, making it a popular spot for families and groups of friends. It is located on East Main Street in Palmyra and is open for lunch and dinner.
  • Mark’s Pizza– This pizza joint offers a wide variety of pizza options, including traditional cheese and pepperoni, as well as specialty pizzas such as buffalo chicken and BBQ chicken. In addition to pizza, the menu also includes other Italian favorites such as calzones, pasta dishes, and subs. The restaurant has a casual and welcoming atmosphere, with both dine-in and take-out options available. Mark’s Pizzeria is known for using fresh, high-quality ingredients and for its friendly service. It is a popular spot for families, groups of friends, and anyone looking for a delicious and satisfying meal.
  • Cafe Aquaduct-Cafe Aqueduct is a popular cafe and restaurant located in Palmyra, New York. The restaurant offers a variety of American-style cuisine, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. They have a selection of fresh locally roasted coffee, craft beer, and wine, making it a great spot for a casual drink or meal. The restaurant has a welcoming atmosphere, with both indoor and outdoor seating available. Cafe Aqueduct is known for offering thoughtful gluten-free and vegan options for its customers. The cafe is located on East Main Street in Palmyra and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike and is a great place to relax and enjoy a meal or drink.

Best Viewing Locations in Palmyra

During the 2024 total solar eclipse, Palmyra, NY, will be a great location for viewing this astronomical event. Palmyra is a fun town and as the date approaches, I am sure various community events and celebrations will be organized for locals and visitors.

I am expecting, and hearing viewing parties and group gatherings are in the works where people will come together to observe this extraordinary phenomenon. Details of these events may not be available until late 2023 or early 2024, so check back for updates as the eclipse nears.

Parks and Recreation Areas

Palmyra, NY, offers a few parks and recreation areas to enjoy the 2024 solar eclipse. One good location is Aqueduct Park, with its open spaces that provide an unobstructed view of the sky. Bring your picnic blankets and eclipse glasses to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime event fully.

Another option is Swifts Landing Park, a serene spot along the historic Erie Canal. With its wide-open spaces and picturesque surroundings, this park gives you an ideal vantage point for the eclipse.

Viewing Parties/Events

As of today, there is no information available about viewing parties or events for the 2024 solar eclipse in Palmyra, NY. However planning for events and viewing parties are in the works. As soon as information becomes available, I will update this post to provide more details about viewing parties and events here in Palmyra, NY.

Witnessing the 2024 solar eclipse from Palmyra, New York promises to be an unforgettable experience. With its charming small-town atmosphere and prime location along the path of totality, Palmyra offers an ideal vantage point to view this rare celestial event, and a lot of fascinating historical sites to check out.

Where will you be watching the 2024 eclipse?

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