A rare solar eclipse is coming to the skies on April 8 and, while Lebanon County residents won’t get the full effect, they’ll still get a pretty good show.

While viewers as close as Erie – which falls within the 115-mile-wide path of totality – should be able to see the total solar eclipse in all its glory, here in south-central Pennsylvania, the coverage will peak at about 90 percent. That’s still pretty cool.

According to reports, the moon’s silhouette will begin encroaching upon the sun at 2:05 p.m., with the maximum eclipse at 3:21. It will all be over by 4:33. To ensure students can get home safely and see the eclipse with their families, some local school districts including Lebanon School District and Palmyra Area School District will dismiss students early on April 8.

A total solar eclipse turns day into night and makes visible the otherwise hidden solar corona – the Sun’s outer atmosphere – as well as bright stars and planets.

According to a report by the BBC, “celestial mechanics says any one spot on the Earth’s surface should experience a total solar eclipse only once every 375 years, on average.”

Viewing conditions are hard to predict this early, but Accuweather is forecasting variable clouds for Lebanon County on April 8… which means your chances of an obstructed view locally remains uncertain.

Even if it’s raining, however, Accuweather notes that the effects of the eclipse will still be visible, “although it will not be as impressive.”

“Even if it is overcast and raining during the total solar eclipse, it will still become dark outside as if it were nighttime for several minutes before gradually becoming bright again,” Accuweather meteorologist Brian Lada explains in an article.

Lada notes that solar eclipses “are not rare, as they occur every year somewhere in the world, but it is rare to have a total solar eclipse happen in a specific part of the world. Before the 2017 eclipse, the most recent total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States occurred in 1979.”

The next total solar eclipse visible in the U.S. on March 30, 2033, Lada says, although it will only be visible over a remote part of Alaska.

“In the contiguous U.S., the next total solar eclipse will be on Aug. 22, 2044, over parts of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota,” he says. “The next major total solar eclipse will be on Aug. 12, 2045, which will be visible from California to Florida and will last longer than six minutes for some areas.”

According to the National Solar Observatory, the national center for ground-based solar physics in the United States, the eclipse’s path on April 8 will sweep across central Mexico, parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and southern Canada.

People should only look at the sun only with proper protection, such as solar glasses or hand-held solar viewers.

Ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun, the NSO notes. Cameras, binoculars and telescopes focus the sun into a searing beam of light that can cause burns.

According to a report by the Lebanon Daily News, local libraries across the county will give out eclipse glasses – a safe way to view the eclipse without causing permanent retina damage – while supplies last.

Here are the local library programs, according to the Daily News:

  • Annville Free Library, 216 E. Main St., Annville – Family eclipse night at 6:30 p.m. March 26, including a brief talk about the total solar eclipse and various eclipse-related activities. Glasses will be given out beginning that night until they are gone.
  • Lebanon Community Library, 125 N. 7th St., Lebanon – Saturday Storytime Explorers: Solar Eclipse Edition at 11 a.m. April 6, and Toddler Storytime at 10:30 a.m. April 2. Glasses will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis beginning April 1.
  • Matthews Public Library, 102 W. Main St., Fredericksburg – Solar Eclipse Party from 2 to 4 p.m. April 8. Glasses are available now to residents of Northern Lebanon School District with a Lebanon County Libraries card.
  • Myerstown Community Library, 199 N. College St., Myerstown – Glasses will be available starting April 2, along with take-and-make activities and informational packets.
  • Palmyra Public Library, 50 Landings Drive, Suite B, Annville – Glasses are available now.
  • Richland Community Library, 111 E. Main St., Richland – Glasses and activity packets are available now.
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Tom has been a professional journalist for nearly four decades. In his spare time, he plays fiddle with the Irish band Fire in the Glen, and he reviews music, books and movies for Rambles.NET. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and has four children: Vinnie, Molly, Annabelle and Wolf.


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