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Celebrating the Solar Eclipse


Solar eclipse glasses are displayed alongside wine glasses/Photo by Gabriella Baiano for Ithaca Week
Cayuga Lake wineries offer celebratory solar eclipse glasses/Photo by Gabriella Baiano for Ithaca Week

“It’s hard to describe an eclipse. It’s so incredible to see the sun just disappear, it’s astounding. I can’t even wrap my head around it,” said Benjamin Shapiro, a senior at Cornell University and outreach coordinator of Cornell’s Astronomical Society.

His club has been informing their campus community on eclipse safety, having printed over 50 posters across campus, including eclipse art designed by students. “We had two concurrent contests, one to design a sticker for the eclipse, and also for posters,” said Shapiro.

Ben Shapiro wears eclipse glasses at the Fuertes Observatory/Photo by Gabriella Baiano
Ben Shapiro wears eclipse glasses at the Fuertes Observatory/Photo by Gabriella Baiano for Ithaca Week

It has been 99 years since a total solar eclipse traveled across New York State and we won’t see another one until 2079.

Ithaca venues are preparing for an influx of tourism during the upcoming solar eclipse on April 8, which will reach 98.8% totality.

“Areas near us including Rochester are expecting…hundreds of thousands of people…we will definitely see the waves and trickles of that,” said Erin Rafalowski, director of marketing for Visit Ithaca.

For those traveling to the path of totality, Rafalowski said to prepare for heavy traffic.

Eclipse Events

Rafalowski shared suggestions for celebrations, including watch parties.

She recommends watch parties at Deep Dive and Cedarwood Event Venue to view the eclipse. Rafalowski said Ithaca’s Sciencenter and Cornell’s Fuertes Observatory are hosting programs to learn more about solar eclipse science.

Stargaze Before the Eclipse

Fuertes Observatory's 102 year-old telescope/Photo by Gabriella Baiano
Fuertes Observatory’s 102 year-old telescope/Photo by Gabriella Baiano for Ithaca Week

April 8 will be Cornell sophomore- and astronomy club member- Abby Bohl’s first solar eclipse. “I’m just excited to see totality,” said Bohl. She is hoping for sunny skies on April 8, “hoping that it’s not cloudy, but it should be really fun,” said Bohl.

Shapiro and Bohl will travel alongside 450 undergraduate students to the path of totality in Rochester for “the biggest thing the club has ever done,” according to Shapiro.

In a way it’s going to be my first eclipse,” said Shapiro. He is most excited to travel to totality and provide that opportunity to students who, “would probably not have the opportunity for another 20, 30, 40 years, or even their entire lifetimes” to see an eclipse.

The club will continue to hand out eclipse glasses and host open hours to stargaze at the Fuertes Observatory every Friday from 8 p.m. to midnight and on April 6 and 7 from 8 to 10 p.m.

Cheers to the Eclipse

The Cayuga Wine Trail will host a “sips to the eclipse” event on April 6 and 7 with 10 participating wineries, including Thirsty Owl and Hosmer Winery. Visitors will receive a wine bingo card after purchasing wine along Cayuga Lake.

Along with wine discounts and eclipse glasses, Thirsty Owl will offer a solar eclipse spritzer featuring their red moon wine and Fujac hard cider made from locally grown fuji and Jonagold apples.

Michelle Moran (left) and Jennifer Cupp (right) prepare for Cayuga Wine Trail's sips to the eclipse event/Photo by Gabriella Baiano
Michelle Moran (left) and Jennifer Cupp (right) prepare for Cayuga Wine Trail’s sips to the eclipse event/Photo by Gabriella Baiano for Ithaca Week

“You get this really beautiful eclipse effect when you start with a little bit of bubbly hard cider and top it off with the sweet red moon, it swirls right into it and totally changes the color,” said Michelle Moran, sales associate at Thirsty Owl.

Jennifer Cupp, owner of Thirsty Owl, looks forward to viewing the eclipse herself and is excited to welcome visitors for the eclipse weekend. “We’re looking forward to seeing everybody’s story and why they’re here,” Cupp said.

Brooke Morsch, general manager of Hosmer Winery said they will feature tastings of a sparkling wine originally made to commemorate the farm’s 50th anniversary. The sparkling wine comes in a bottle “big enough to block the sun,” Morsch said.

Where to Get Glasses

“The number one thing is everyone should have their certified safety glasses,” Rafalowski said. Complimentary eclipse glasses are available at Ithaca’s downtown visitors center on the downtown commons, Cornell’s Fuertes Observatory, and the Sciencenter. 

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