WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — You may have already noticed your child has an extra day off of school around their Spring Break next year. Well, that’s because of a total solar eclipse that’s happening in Buffalo on April 8, 2024.
“April 8th is not going to be a normal day by any stretch of the imagination,” Mark Percy said, the director of the Williamsville Central School District Planetarium.
At 3:15 p.m. that day, the region will go black for 3 minutes and 50 seconds.
“The entirety of the sun will be blocked by the moon, bringing us to a nighttime darkness in the middle of the afternoon,” Percy said.
We’re used to dreary April afternoons, but this is much different. This is something that will only happen once in our lifetimes, here in Buffalo.
The last total solar eclipse here was in the year 1925. The next one isn’t until 2144.
Mark Percy has been the planetarium director at the school district for 21 years, and has had April 8, 2024 circled on his calendar since day one.
“The temperature will plummet at least 20 degrees (and) animals will get confused, because they suddenly think it’s nighttime,” he said. “People are often — it’s hard to describe the responses, they might break down in tears or scream, because it’s just an incredibly bizarre thing, but also incredibly beautiful at the same time.”
So why does this happen?
“Even though our moon and sun are very different sizes, there’s just the right combination of distance and size that they look the same size in our sky.”
Percy says our planet is the only one to experience this with our moon.
“The chances are just incredibly small that you could have this situation.”
And what will happen as a result?
Percy says we could have a major influx of traffic to the WNY region. This is a big deal, and people will come from all over the Northeast and Canada. Several years ago, he started warning school districts because 3:15 p.m. is around the time school lets out.
“We wanted to make sure that every student had the opportunity to share this experience with their family or their friends,” Williamsville Central School District Superintendent Dr. Darren Brown-Hall said.
Williamsville Central schools will close that day, adding a day to their spring break in 2024, so kids don’t get stuck on a bus in a traffic jam. Other districts have also made the same call.
Dr. Brown-Hall said his district is even ordering tens of thousands of eclipse glasses for the big day.
“We’re partnering with our PTSA council and are ordering 25,000 sets of these special glasses so that our students can view the total solar eclipse properly,” he said. “Every student will get a pair, every staff member, and we’ll have some also for our parents.”
Percy says one year out, make a plan for getting your own glasses. You need those glasses in order to watch the eclipse without harming your eyes. Also, plan out where you want to be to experience something so spectacular.
It’s also worth noting, we are not the only ones in the U.S. experiencing this. Other big cities will be in the ‘Path of Totality,’ meaning they will go completely dark too. That includes, Dallas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Indianapolis; Cleveland and Burlington, Vermont.
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Kelsey Anderson is an award-winning anchor who came back home to Buffalo in 2018. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.