Gear up for Total Solar Eclipse experience on April 8
In a celestial spectacle set to captivate Maine communities, the Total Solar Eclipse on Monday, April 8, promises an awe-inspiring natural phenomenon that won’t occur again in the U.S. until 2044. Only select states, including Maine, will witness the moon’s path completely covering the sun, creating moments of total darkness and a radiant ring around the sun. For their safety, viewers must use solar eclipse glasses while the sun is not fully eclipsed.
Solar eclipse glasses are becoming increasingly difficult to find as many local distributors are low on stock. Currently, several local convenience stores carry them, and they can be found on Amazon. Look for CE/ISO-certified eclipse glasses. If you’d like to make your own eclipse viewer(s), there are dozens of videos on YouTube demonstrating how to do this.
The start of the eclipse in Dover-Foxcroft will occur at about 2:20 p.m., with the total darkness phase beginning at about 3:31 p.m., lasting about a minute and a half, with full sun-restoration by 4:40 p.m. While the entire state of Maine will experience the eclipse, communities within the path of totality will have an unparalleled view; including Greenville, where spectators will enjoy approximately three minutes of totality. Regions within the path of totality include Millinocket, Rangeley, Jackman, and Carrabassett Valley, and in Aroostook County, the towns of Houlton, Island Falls, and Presque Isle. Houlton will be the last town in the continental U.S. to witness the event, boasting one of the longest periods of total darkness in Maine.
“The 2024 Eclipse over Piscataquis County offering views in full totality will be a unique and historical experience,” said Denise Buzzelli, Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce executive director, “we are bracing for tens of thousands of onlookers to navigate through our county to witness a 5-minute event; and it is difficult to plan for this.”
Buzzelli expressed concerns with regard to parking, lack of large-scale paved areas for viewing, the need for porta-potties, cell phone network traffic, supply chain issues due to traffic, delayed school buses, and blocked emergency vehicles. “While we are excited to welcome visitors to our area, we recognize the challenges; emergency management agencies have already begun working with municipalities, civic leaders, and communities to make this day safe for everyone within our region.” She continued, “we will do our best to promote 2024 Eclipse packages and viewing locations at piscataquischamber.com/events as we are made aware of them.”
Buzzelli said visitors should be reminded that most open land in Piscataquis County is privately owned. Prior to venturing onto private property, advance permission must be granted by the land owner.
Out-of-staters should plan ahead for a safe, memorable experience.
Travelers to Maine for this celestial event are advised to plan ahead due to limited lodging and amenities in early April, which is before the start of northern Maine’s summer tourism season. Reservations should be made in advance, and preparations should account for unpredictable weather and winter-like conditions, traffic delays, and a high probability of cell phone connectivity issues due to thousands inundating cell networks while live streaming.
Eclipse-approved eyeglasses (solar glasses) are required for safe viewing. Spectators will be able to remove their solar glasses only if they are in a location in the path of totality. People in Madawaska and Bangor will need to keep their glasses on and will only see a small portion of the moon move in front of the sun through their protective glasses.
For visitors not accustomed to Maine weather in April, coats and boots are recommended as temperatures are between 27-40 degrees on average, and typical conditions in Central and Northern Maine are characterized by deep snow, icy terrain, and mud, which pose significant safety threats and the potential for property damage.
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry advises that Maine State Park campgrounds are closed for camping during April due to weather. Baxter State Park will be closed to camping, and Katahdin trails will be closed. Camping on Maine Public Lands in April is inadvisable to all but highly experienced hikers who are self-sufficient and fully prepared to deal with difficult and unpredictable conditions. The department urges the public to adhere strictly to this advisory to ensure their well-being and prevent potential emergencies.
For visitors who plan to stay overnight, it is strongly recommended that visitors seek lodging accommodations in motels, bed-and-breakfasts, or inns to ensure safety and comfort during their stay in the region since campgrounds will not be an option. Recommended lodging options from Dover-Foxcroft through Monson can be found at piscataquischamber.com, and at destinationmooseheadlake.com from Monson to Greenville and points north. Local eclipse-related events and information can also be found at these websites.