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Adirondackers will get front row seat to 2024 eclipse

August 25, 2017
By ANTONIO OLIVERO - Staff Writer (aolivero@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

SARANAC - Come Monday, April 8, 2024, five-and-two-tenths seconds past 3:27 p.m., scientists predict this small Adirondack town will plunge into the deepest of celestial darkness.

At that moment, the maximum total solar eclipse will occur. This town of 4,000 people, in the northeast corner of the Adirondack State Park along the river that bears its name, sits directly on the center line of the "path of totality." Two thousand, four hundred and twenty days from Thursday, Aug. 24, the moon will perfectly cover the sun from this vantage point on state Route 3.

That astronomical forecast is according to Xavier Jubier, the French author of "Solar Eclipse Maestro," "Lunar Eclipse Maestro" and "Mercury Venus Transit Maestro." Jubier also has created dozens of solar and lunar eclipse Google Maps and Google Earth files, dating back to 1961 and predicting as far into the future as 2100. These maps are linked in the footnotes of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's eclipse page.

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The path of totality is quite wide, stretching from Canada to the southern Adirondacks. If the sky is clear of clouds, people in that band will see what is considered a total eclipse. But there are degrees of totality, and in the center line is where it would be longest and most complete.

Hundreds, maybe thousands of people eager to witness the eclipse might descend on the hamlet of Saranac and the surrounding area on that day. It'll be during a time of year that is typically sleepy, what's known as a "shoulder season" of tourism when not only do few tourists visit, but many locals depart for spring break vacations.

Local officials are already thinking about how to maximize on the occasion economically.

On Monday, Aug. 21, officials in Franklin, North Carolina - a mountain town of about 3,800 residents that is comparable to the Tri-Lakes region - estimated about 10,000 visitors descended on their Appalachian Trail destination that sits at 2,119 feet of elevation.

If that many people were to descend on Lake Placid in 2024, the town would have as many visitors as some of its busiest events, including Summit Lacrosse week and the Empire State Winter Games.

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Saranac

Saranac town Supervisor Nick Carter was provided with Jubier's information on Wednesday, Aug. 23, fewer than 48 hours after the "Great American Eclipse of 2017" swept across the United States in a path from the Oregon coast to the beaches of South Carolina.

"I was looking at the map and it's like, wait a minute," Carter recalled. "That line looks a little close.

"I haven't really centered in on where the actual center [line] is," he added, "but if Saranac is in the bulls-eye, we will definitely stage something or be involved some way."

Of all the Adirondack mountain towns, Saranac is the closest thing to a population center that will be directly in the center line of totality, according to Jubier's maps. This full moon shadow will cut northeast across the United States from the Texas border with Mexico and exit where Maine meets New Brunswick, Canada.

The eclipse would enter north of the heart of Saranac before crossing Route 3 just south of the Saranac Country Store. From there, this dimmest of daytime darkness will essentially move parallel to the Saranac River before crossing back southward over a northeasterly bend in the river as the eclipse departs town, racing toward Plattsburgh and Lake Champlain.

Anyone lined up along Route 3 and the Saranac River can expect about three minutes and 34-and-two-tenths seconds of the moon 100 percent obscuring the sun. A partial eclipse, however, will last from about 2:13 to 4:37 p.m. - more than two hours.

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From west to east

Saranac will be far from the only North Country location where people will be able to view this purest of eclipses. The shadowy center line will hone in on the Adirondacks between Fort Drum to the north and Carthage to the south. From there, it will continue east, following Route 3 over Lake Bonaparte and Harrisville, which will experience 100 percent totality for about three minutes and 37 seconds - the apex of which will be at 3:25 p.m.

The eclipse will continue quickly as it enters the Adirondacks just north of Star Lake. The center line will pass north of Tupper Lake, the downtown of which will experience three-and-a-half minutes of a 100 percent total solar eclipse.

"We haven't quite thought about that yet," said Kerri Zeimann, the experiential programs manager at Tupper Lake's Wild Center museum, one of the most popular sites for Monday's eclipse, "but we were thinking we would take everything that we did today, put it on a shelf and mark it, 'Do not open until April 8, 2024.'"

The Wild Center is one of the first spots that Michelle Clement, director of marketing for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, highlighted as ideal places to view the eclipse. Another, also south of the center line, is the 4,867-foot drive-up summit of Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington - that is, if Mother Nature cooperates and the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway isn't closed due to snow or ice.

"But hopefully, people will still be skiing on the slopes," said Kim Rielly, ROOST's director of communications.

Huge crowds flocked to the Adirondack Public Observatory in Tupper Lake on Aug. 21. The site is eyeing a grant-funded expansion project, including a new Astro-Science Center to feature a museum and a domed telescope building.

"If that's ready in time," Clement said, "that would be a perfect place to experience this infrequent event."

Barreling north of the village of Saranac Lake, which will also experience a 100 percent total eclipse for about three-and-a-half minutes, the 2024 eclipse center line will pass through the remote St. Regis Canoe Area. An even better spot to see it, however, may be the trails of the Paul Smith's College Visitor Interpretive Center. Of all of the outdoor recreation venues in the Tri-Lakes, the VIC will be closest to the center line, just a 3.4-mile drive away from a spot on state Route 30 near McColloms where the center line will cross.

Speaking Wednesday, Andy Testo, the general manager at the VIC, said his staff is already thinking about the date.

"Three miles away is amazing," said Testo, who wore special eclipse sunglasses from the summit of the 4,442-foot Panther Peak in the Santanoni Range during the Aug. 21 eclipse. "We are fortunate. We'll be ready for it."

The center line is also expected to pass through Buck Pond Campground and Loon Lake. Lake Placid, the popular tourist destination to the south of the line, will be cheated of about eight seconds off of its own total solar eclipse compared with its westerly Tri-Lakes village neighbors. It will be 100 percent obscured for three minutes and 21 seconds.

East of the Adirondack Park's "Blue Line" border, the center line of totality will skirt just north of the city of Plattsburgh, beginning its quick journey over Lake Champlain via Point Au Roche.

This all is, of course, if the skies remain clear in the North Country during a sometimes fickle time of year known for unpredictable weather and cloud cover.

Whatever the weather, ROOST is already brainstorming how it will accommodate potentially upwards of tens of thousands of visitors to the area, as the nearby New York City metropolitan area will only experience an 89 percent partial eclipse.

"It's in the middle of the quietest month for the Adirondacks, " Clement said, "Communication with our business community will be key to prepare to be ready to handle an influx."

(Staff Writer Aaron Cerbone contributed to this report.)

 
 

 

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