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A Celestial Event

An event of celestial consequence — I am, of course, talking about the solar eclipse, and even though I usually write about outdoor adventure, natural history exploration, and activities like birding and cross-country skiing, it was impossible not to be excited about it. After all, anyone interested in the outdoors and the natural world was likely outside enjoying it, at least for a spell, and given my work with birds and birding it occurred to me that ducks across the region are currently wearing what we call their eclipse plumage right now — sorry, I had to slip birds in here somewhere.

The Adirondack Public Observatory

Even with all the hype and build-up to the event itself, I must truthfully admit that I was caught a little by surprise. I had brushed off the eclipse talk I heard in the spring as “a long time from now,” only to emerge from a busy summer of field work and field teaching to realize, “Hey, that’s next week — how did that happen?”

Fortunately for unprepared folks like me, the Adirondack Public Observatory in Tupper Lake held an event to both celebrate the eclipse and to educate folks about it. So Wren and I headed to Tupper to enjoy the afternoon with other interested folks. Even without a total eclipse in our part of the country, there were still plenty of people out on the warm day to enjoy the festivities of kids games, educational materials, and eclipse viewing. In fact, so many people attended that the observatory ran out of the special eclipse glasses used to protect people’s eyes while viewing it. And I thought I was arriving with time to spare to buy a pair!

Lots of people came to enjoy the eclipse.
Lots of people came to enjoy the eclipse.

Sharing the Experience

But in the end that didn’t matter at all. The folks with glasses generously lent them to those of us who did not — and glasses were passed around regularly through the crowds. In fact, this is largely what we did while the eclipse was going on. Wren and I ate our lunch and then waited in line for the solar telescopes — super cool to look through and something everyone should do! — while chatting with our neighbors in line, some from Orange County, New York, some local, and some all the way from California! And we passed the eclipse glasses from person to person as we slowly made our way to the telescopes to view the eclipse through them.

There was not only a sense of excitement from the onlookers as they shared the experience, but also a collective festive camaraderie fostered by the folks at the observatory, who did a great job coordinating and facilitating the event. And while Wren didn’t know why people were in such a happy mood, she took advantage of it, making friends with everyone she could while patiently waiting for me as I viewed the eclipse.

Wren celebrates the eclipse in her own way.
Wren celebrates the eclipse in her own way.

And while this event was both fun and educational, it may also be a forerunner for what is coming in April, 2024, when the Adirondacks are in the path of totality during another solar eclipse. If this celebration was any sort of predictor, that should be great.

For our part, Wren and I enjoyed the fun time — me for chatting and viewing the eclipse, and Wren for so many loving hands — and then we headed off for a swim at Lake Clear Beach. It was a warm day, after all, and there is no better way to top off a day in the Adirondack summer sun, even if it is a partially blocked summer sun, than with a long swim in the lake.

More Happening at the Adirondack Public Observatory

The astrophotography workshop will take place October 19 to the 22 at Adirondack Public Observatory. It is an opportunity to meet, trade secrets, and perform astrophotography under the darkest skies in the Eastern U.S. Avoid light pollution and capture images with either your own equipment or ours. Registration for the four-day event is $120 per participant, with a 10% discount for APO members. Find more information and updates here. 

Summer is still going in the Adirondacks — plan your summer or fall outdoor recreation trip today by checking out our lodging and dining pages. And don’t forget to stop in for Friday night stargazing at the Adirondack Public Observatory!

This week in related ADK news:

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Aflight in the valley

The nature of art

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Immersed in nature

Experience autumn

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