New Hampshire is prepping solar seekers in advance of April 8 eclipse

The moon passes in front of the sun for a total solar eclipse visible from Farmington, Mo. on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 in Farmington, Mo.

The moon passes in front of the sun for a total solar eclipse visible from Farmington, Mo. on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 in Farmington, Mo. Anthony Souffle/ AP

By DAVID BROOKS

Monitor staff

Published: 02-29-2024 2:18 PM

Modified: 02-29-2024 5:04 PM


Hoping to turn the total solar eclipse on April 8 into a tourism bonanza, New Hampshire state government has created an online portal touting seasonal trips, places to stay and other things to do as preparations ramp up around the area.

One event will happen early next week, when New Hampshire businessman Rik Yeames, who has been heading efforts to prepare for the eclipse for more than two years, will give a talk in the Concord Library about the whole phenomenon. Each attendee will get a pair of eclipse viewing glasses but space is limited, so registration for the Tuesday event should be done at the city’s website.  

One gathering place on the day of the eclipse that is likely to be full, judging from the crowds who came during our last eclipse in 2017, will be the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord. It is holding an “eclipse party” from noon to 5 p.m. on April 8. The eclipse will reach peak at 2:15 p.m.

Concord is close to the area of totality and will see 96% coverage of the sun by the moon, but seeing the total eclipse will require heading north at least to Littleton.

The possibility of huge crowds filling the few roads in the North Country has officials both excited and nervous. Virtually all hotels, short-term rentals and even campsites have been booked for weeks or months.

While that is an economic boost, it also presents a challenge. Many North Country businesses aren’t usually operating at full speed in early April, a slow period between winter and summer, and have been struggling with how to ramp up for what could be a very short blast of business.

“It’s still a good idea to pack some essential supplies such as water and snacks. Be sure to have a full tank of gas, and if you have an electric vehicle, map out charging stations before you leave your home,” the state said it an official release.

Adding to the complication is that weather is often cloudy in Northern New Hampshire in early April, raising the possibility that anticipated crowds may not materialize.

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The state’s online portal at NHSolarEclipse.com will include special events and other information for visits. New listings for consideration can be submitted to jic@dos.nh.gov.

Many schools are preparing sessions or events. The New Hampshire Department of Education (NHED) has compiled a list of educational resources that includes activities and videos. NHED also is providing nearly 65,000 ISO-certified solar eclipse safety glasses to school districts.

It is, of course, unsafe to look at the sun without special glasses that are ISO-certified. Cheap knock-offs sold as “eclipse glasses” may not provide the same protection and can hurt your eyes. They are for sale at the Discovery Center, among other locations.