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A Total Eclipse Extravaganza

Updated: Mar 23

Attend An Enlightening History Talk, Learn More About Important Preparations and Score Free Shades for the April 8th, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

Graphic of a total solar eclipse, with the dark circle of of the moon blocking the sun and bright rays of the sun encircling the moon and extending into space.

The total solar eclipse our community will experience on April 8, 2024 has been 217 years in the making, but it's not too late for you to make your preparations:

  • Attend the upcoming Eclipse History Talk, sponsored by the Fluvanna Community Historical Society (FCHS) to find out more about the history, science behind and what you can expect during this spectacular celestial dance;

  • Read more below about how local officials want you, your neighbors, guests and loves ones to safely view this once in a lifetime event;

  • Protect your peepers while viewing the eclipse by scoring your very own pair of stylish solar shades.

Don’t miss this stellar opportunity! Mark your calendars, spread the word, and get ready to be starstruck! 🌟🔭 To find out more, read below.

Jump to a Specific Section:

An Overview of Solar Eclipses

Solar eclipses occur when the moon comes directly between the earth and the sun. There are three types of solar eclipses: total, partial, and annular. However, a total solar eclipse is the most dramatic and rare. It creates an awe-inspiring sight when the moon completely blocks out the sun, and the day turns into night for a few minutes. This natural phenomenon is a sight to behold and it leaves a deep impression on anyone lucky enough to experience a total solar eclipse.

The 2024 Total Solar Eclipse: A Once in a Lifetime Event

The upcoming total solar eclipse (April 8, 2024) is generating an enormous amount of attention similar to how these spectacular celestial events captured the attention of large segments of the population in times past. Fluvanna, Chautauqua County and a large swath of Western New York lie in this eclipse's "path of totality" i.e., the area where the Moon will move between the Earth and the Sun completely obscuring the Sun from our vantage point. Within the path of totality, viewers will experience the awe-inspiring moment when the mid-day sky becomes dark and appears as nightfall. However, viewers outside this path - elsewhere in Upstate New York and other parts of the country - will witness only a partial eclipse.

Total solar eclipses are visible from any specific location on Earth approximately once every 400 years. The last time Western New York experienced a total solar eclipse was on a frigid January day in 1925. Hundreds of thousands of people viewed the eclipse and not a few assisted in making detailed observations, gathering data and conducting experiments. Unfortunately for many in the Buffalo area and environs cloud cover obscured the sight. Southern Tier communities, including Dunkirk, Gowanda, Salamanca, Silvercreek and Westfield, fared better where clear skies and freshly fallen snow cover made for spectacular views of the eclipse and a dazzling display of lights on the ground. Fluvanna, and other localities within the most southern parts of Chautauqua, lay just a short distance outside the path of totality. As such, Fluvanna has not experienced a total solar eclipse for over 217 years. After this year's eclipse, communities throughout Western New York will not see another total solar eclipse until October 26, 2144.

A map of the continental United States showing, in dark grey and yellow, the path of totality for the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse and various colored roads leading to areas on the map within the path of totality that estimate driving distance and number of people who may travel to see the total eclipse.
Map courtesty of Michael Zeiler,

Given their significant place in our culture's history, the relative rarity of these events and that most people will not witness another total eclipse within their lifetime, individuals throughout the country are scrambling to get the best views of this celestial event. Officials estimate that upwards of 4 million people may travel to communities within the path of totality to see the eclipse with their own eyes. Depending upon numerous factors, the population of Chautauqua County, estimated currently at 124,891 residents (according to the latest Census Bureau figures), may temporarily swell upwards to an astonishing 375,000 people in just a matter of days.

Eclipse History Talk by NASA Eclipse Ambassador Tom Traub

A profile photograph of a man wearing a light jacket, with a gray hoodie underneath, sporting a gray mustache and a large smile, wears a small baseball cap and solar eclipse glasses. Behind his photograph, an orange to yellow sphere, reminiscent of the Sun, forms a halo around his head.
Guest Speaker, NASA Eclipse Ambassador, Tom Traub, sporting solar eclipse glasses as he prepares for this month's History Talk.

To help us prepare for and deepen our understanding of this once in a lifetime event, the Fluvanna Community Historical Society is thrilled to present an engaging talk by NASA Eclipse Ambassador, Tom Traub.

Mr. Traub is an experienced amateur astronomer. Besides looking quite dashing in a pair of solar eclipse glasses (see his biographical photo in this post), his passion for astronomy has led him to explore various aspects of celestial events, including solar eclipses. As Vice President of the Marshal Martz Memorial Astronomical Association, Inc. (MMMAA), Tom actively contributes to the operation of the Martz-Kohl Observatory. With a lifelong interest in astronomy, Tom has witnessed multiple solar eclipses, including total, hybrid, annular, and partial ones. His dedication extends beyond personal enjoyment; he enjoys sharing his extensive knowledge with the public, especially students. Tom Traub’s contributions to the field of astronomy continue to inspire and educate enthusiasts worldwide.

Drawing from his extensive experience and expertise, Tom will delve into the scientific intricacies of solar eclipses, their historical significance, and what we can anticipate during the upcoming event. This History Talk will take place online and in-person as follows:

Date: Monday, March 25th, 2024

Time: 10:00 AM

Place: Fluvanna Community Church (3363 Fluvanna Ave. Ext., Fluvanna, NY)

To RSVP for the event or obtain the link to participate online, click here or click the "Register" button at the bottom of this post.

This interactive session promises not only education but also excitement, making it a fantastic opportunity to learn from a seasoned expert and have your questions answered.

Preparations and Obtaining Your Free Solar Eclipse Glasses

A young woman with long brown hair, standing at a podium and displaying in her hands in front of her a pair of solar eclipse glasses.
Lacey Wilson, the Chautauqua County Health Director, provides a preview of the solar eclipse glasses at a press conference regarding the 2024 eclipse (Press Conference, 3/12/24).

To make this event safe and even more engaging, the Fluvanna Community Historical Society is giving away free solar eclipse glasses at the Eclipse History Talk on March 25th. Viewing a solar eclipse without proper protection can cause serious damage to your eyes. The Historical Society is able to provide these ISO-certified glasses to members of the public, free of charge, thanks to the generous support of Chautauqua County.

At a March 12, 2024 press conference in Mayville, the County addressed what steps they are taking to prepare communities and individuals throughout the area for the solar eclipse. During the news conference, officials discussed safety measures, distribution of solar glasses and other important preparations. The County aims to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for residents and visitors during this rare event.

Lacey Wilson, the Chautauqua County Health Director, explained why the County decided to purchase solar viewers for residents and visitors alike to use during the upcoming solar eclipse: "Viewing the sun without proper eye protection can cause serious and lifelong damage to a person's eyesight. It's part of the County Health Department's mission to not only educate the public on the how to safely view the eclipse, but also protect the public by providing solar eclipse glasses people know they can trust."

"The good news is that solar glasses provided by Chautauqua County are specifically rated as meeting the highest standards so you, your loved ones, friends and family can safely view the various phases of the eclipse."

Ms. Wilson and Dr. Faulk, the County's Chief Medical Officer, explained how the sun emits not only intense visible light, but also invisible ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiation. This invisible light can still cause retinal burns and permanent eye damage even when most of the sun's visible light is hidden and a person may not feel any discomfort while looking at the sun during a partial solar eclipse. This means people should wear safety eye wear during most phases of the eclipse, but not just any product will do.

Ms. Wilson explained, "It's extremely important to note that not every item marketed as 'solar eclipse glasses,' (or similar products), meets the technical standards established by the scientific community for safely viewing the sun. People should only use solar glasses and other viewers manufactured and supplied by companies proven to meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard. The good news is that solar glasses provided by Chautauqua County are specifically rated as meeting the highest standards so you, your loved ones, friends and family can safely view the various phases of the eclipse."

A man standing at a podium, sporting a shaved head and tighting trimmed beard, wearing a deep blue suit and tie, tries on a paair of solar eclipse glasses while a young woman with long brown hair and two men look on from behind him.
Chautauqua County Executive, P.J. Wendell, tries on a pair of solar eclipse glasses, while members of his Administration look on (Press Conference, 3/12/24)

You can reserve your solar eclipse glasses ahead of time when you RSVP to attend the History Talk. These solar eclipse glasses will ensure you can safely enjoy this incredible event.

Register for the Eclipse History Talk, Contribute Toward Better Understanding Eclipses & Reserve Your Solar Eclipse Glasses

To register to attend the Eclipse History Talk (in-person or online), simply RSVP by clicking on the "Register Now" button and answer a few short questions:

Contribute to Science:

As people throughout the country and abroad have done for centuries, you can help advance our understanding of solar eclipses too. It's now easier to participate than ever and you don't have to be a professional or even amateur scientist to take part. You can contribute to gathering a significant amount of detailed data and observations by simply taking a picture or video with your smart phone. Here are a few NASA funded "citizen scientist" projects that you can help out with while still enjoying the spectacle of the solar eclipse on April 8th:

  • Eclipse Soundscapes: How does wildlife respond to a solar eclipse? Record sounds before, during, and after an eclipse to find out! Eclipses provide a rare opportunity to advance soundscape ecology research by studying how animals react to sudden, dramatic changes in natural stimuli. You can sign up to gather and submit data during the eclipse as an "Observer" or a "Data Collector."

  • Globe Eclipse: use GLOBE Observer, the app of The GLOBE Program, and a thermometer to measure air temperature changes and monitor the clouds during the eclipse. Even if the cloud block our view of the total eclipse, this project will still provide scientists with valuable data.

  • HamSCI: got a ham radio? Bounce radio signals off the Earth’s ionosphere – a region of charged particles high up in the atmosphere – to help research the eclipse's affect on Earth's atmosphere.

  • SunSketcher: use your smartphone to help scientists measure the exact shape and size of the Sun precisely determined to within a few parts per million. It's as simple as downloading an app on your smart phone and following a few simple instructions.

Get Your Free Solar Eclipse Glasses:

You can score solar eclipse glasses for you, your loved ones, friends and neighbors by simply attending the March 25th Eclipse History Talk. If you are not able to attend or plan on attending online, you can also reserve solar eclipse glasses by clicking the following "Buy Now" (don't worry, they're still totally free):

This upcoming total solar eclipse carries a unique blend of excitement, anticipation, and education. It is a reminder of the wonders of the universe and our continuous quest to understand it. So, gear up for this once in a lifetime event, and don't miss the opportunity to attend the enlightening talk by NASA Eclipse Ambassador, Tom Traub, learn more about this natural wonder, get your free solar eclipse glasses and participate in a citizen science project.


The Fluvanna Community Historical Society is a registered 501(c)(3) organization, provisionally chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York, and dedicated to connecting our community with our past, with each other and with a brighter future.

The logo of the Fluvanna Community Historical Society (graphic of a meeting house/church building in green) with the sun eclipsed and stars spangled in the sky above.

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