Stargazing in Hamburg

Join us at Penn Dixie for an out-of-this-world experience! Our astronomers will map the night sky — including stars, planets, constellations, and deep space objects — for you using a variety of telescopes and specialized equipment. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, warm clothing, blankets, a flashlight, and food/beverages. We’ll have plenty of telescopes, but you can bring yours along, too, if you’d like some expert advice. All ages welcome. Registration is not required. Check our social media for weather-related updates.

2023 Dates:

  • Saturday, June 17th, 9 pm (Rain date: June 24th)
  • Saturday, July 15th, 9 pm (Rain date: July 22nd)
  • Saturday, August 19th, 8:30 pm (Rain date: August 26th)

Please plan to arrive a few minutes before the scheduled start time so that you have time to use the restroom and set up your lawn chairs / blankets. If you arrive after the start time, we ask that you dim your headlights when pulling into the parking lot.

Thanks to the generous support of Moog Inc. and the Town of Hamburg, there is no charge for our evening astronomy programs.

A solar eclipse viewed through Penn Dixie telescopes.

Thinking about purchasing a telescope? This telescope guide offers some great suggestions from Penn Dixie astronomer Ernie Jacobs. You can also download our Astronomy Night guide — also prepared by Ernie Jacobs — to learn more about our programs.

Spring Cleanup

Saturday, May 13th, 10 am to 12 pm

Join our team of volunteers as we perform the annual cleanup of Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve!

Helpers are needed for various beautification projects including debris pickup and general maintenance. Waterproof boots are strongly recommended; please dress for the weather as we will be outdoors for several hours. Work gloves are helpful, too. We will have a limited supply of gloves on hand for those who do not bring them.

There is no charge for admission and lunch will be provided! All volunteers are invited to stay after the cleanup ends for some free fossil hunting fun.

Contact Sydney Mecca at to register or use the form below.

Opening Day – April 29th

Saturday April 29th, 2023 – 9 am to 4:30 pm

Join us on April 29th for the opening day of Penn Dixie’s 28th season! Celebrate spring with the #1 fossil park in the U.S., collect Devonian Period fossils, and enjoy a day exploring the outdoors.

Penn Dixie is open from 9 am – 4:30 pm. The first tour departs at 9:15 am; subsequent tours are held every 30 minutes. The final tour is 2:45 pm and the park closes at 4:30 pm. Final entry for non-members is at 2:45 pm. Tickets can be purchased day-of on site, but we recommend booking tickets online if you have a specific tour time that you would like.

The park is open weekends-only from April 29th to June 12th. We are open daily from June 12th to September 4th, then return to weekends-only until mid-October. Full information regarding hours and rates can be found here:

New to fossil hunting? Not quite sure what to expect from Penn Dixie? Wondering what to bring? Check out our frequently asked questions page:

Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve is generously supported by Erie County and the Town of Hamburg.

Introduction to Eclipses 

Written by Amber McKnight

An eclipse is a fascinating and awe-inspiring celestial event that has intrigued people for centuries. It occurs when one celestial body moves between two others, blocking the light of one or both. For many people, eclipses hold special meaning beyond their scientific significance. Throughout history, eclipses have been associated with various superstitions and beliefs and interpreted as omens of good or bad fortune. Some cultures believed that eclipses were a sign of the gods’ displeasure or approval, while others saw them as an opportunity for spiritual reflection and renewal.

Despite these interpretations, eclipses remain a fascinating and awe-inspiring phenomenon that inspires wonder and curiosity in people of all backgrounds. Whether you are a scientist studying the mysteries of the universe or a casual observer admiring the beauty of the cosmos, an eclipse is an event that will leave a lasting impression. Here is what you need to know about eclipses.

The different types of eclipses

There are three main types of eclipses: total, partial, and annular. Each type of eclipse is determined by the position and alignment of the Earth, Moon, and Sun.

A total eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly in front of the Sun, completely blocking its light and creating a dark shadow on the Earth. During a total solar eclipse, the Sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, can be seen shining around the edges of the Moon. This type of eclipse is a rare and spectacular event that can only be seen from a specific location on Earth, where the Moon’s shadow falls.

A partial eclipse occurs when the Moon passes in front of the Sun but only blocks a portion of its light. This type of eclipse is visible from a wider area on Earth than a total eclipse but still requires the viewer to be in a specific location to see the partial shadow.

An annular eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly in front of the Sun but is too far away to completely block its light. This creates a ring of light around the Moon, giving the appearance of a “ring of fire.” Annular eclipses are rarer than total or partial eclipses, but they are still breathtaking sights to see.

In addition to these three main types of eclipses, there are also hybrid eclipses, which are a combination of a total and annular eclipse. During a hybrid eclipse, the Moon’s shadow appears to change from total to annular or vice versa as it moves across the Earth’s surface.

When Is the Next Eclipse?

The next total solar eclipse will occur on April 8, 2024. This eclipse will be visible in parts of Mexico, the United States, and Canada. The path of totality will start in Mexico, cross the United States from Texas to Maine, and end in Canada. Cities such as Austin, Dallas, Little Rock, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Montreal will experience the total eclipse.

The 2024 total solar eclipse will be longer than the 2017 eclipse, with a duration of up to 4 minutes and 28 seconds. It will also be the first total solar eclipse visible in the United States since the 2017 eclipse. However, not everyone in North America will be able to see the total eclipse, as it will only be visible along a narrow path. The 2024 total solar eclipse is already generating excitement among scientists, astronomers, and enthusiasts who plan to witness this rare and breathtaking event.

An eclipse is a special event that captures the imagination of people worldwide, both for scientific reasons and for fun. These celestial events offer a unique opportunity to study our solar system and the universe beyond, providing insights into the workings of the cosmos. At the same time, they are also a fascinating and beautiful spectacle to behold, creating an unforgettable experience for all who witness them.

As we await the next solar eclipse in 2024, we hope it will be a special event that brings people together to marvel at the wonders of the universe. Whether you are a scientist, astronomer, or simply a curious observer, there is no denying the magic of an eclipse. So mark your calendars, prepare your telescopes, and get ready to witness one of nature’s most extraordinary events.


We’re Hiring!

Please note: we are no longer accepting applications for educators for the 2023 season.

Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Natural Reserve is a top-ranked destination for science enthusiasts of all ages. With a mission of hands-on science education, we encourage our visitors to learn about the natural world in an outdoors setting. Our programs emphasize natural history — including geology and paleontology, ecology, astronomy, local history, and other STEM fields. We serve 18,000 guests annually, including many who travel across the country to dig our fossils and explore our park.

Educators are the initial connection that visitors have with Penn Dixie. Educators are responsible for introducing Penn Dixie to guests, from admission to departure. The ideal candidate is driven to provide an outstanding learning experience for visitors of all abilities and backgrounds. Educators are expected to be friendly, helpful, and consistently maintain a positive attitude despite the challenge of working outdoors with large groups of visitors. Candidates do not need a formal background in geology or paleontology, but must be willing to learn!

Please note that this position is seasonal and part-time. Educators are needed late April through late October. Flexible start and end dates can be discussed based on an individual’s need (ex. leaving for college). Starting salary is $15 / hour.

Essential Functions

  • Provide tours for guests (various group sizes)
  • Demonstrate enthusiastic and welcome behavior at all times.
  • Greet guests, accept admissions, conduct introductions, guide guests throughout the site.
  • Monitor and enforce safety rules.
  • Ensures cleanliness and organization throughout the site, including, but not limited to, collecting, cleaning and sorting fossils, organizing and filling “fossil grab bags”, garbage pick up, light trail maintenance.
  • Provide excellent customer service and be knowledgeable in Penn Dixie’s science, history, and programming (training provided).
  • Explain and promote Penn Dixie programs, membership, gift shop merchandise, birthday parties, and special events.
  • Respond to guest needs immediately, including issues requiring first aid.

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Documentation of U.S. citizenship or proof of eligibility to work in the U.S.
  • Obtain criminal background check clearance.
  • Ability to work a flexible schedule including weekends, holidays and evenings.
  • Knowledge or interest in science.
  • Proficiency with tablets, smartphones, and various applications.
  • CPR and First Aid certifications (may be provided if employee is not currently certified)
  • Must have your own reliable transportation to/from work.

Experience, Skills and Personal Qualities Required

  • Excellent verbal and non-verbal communication skills
  • Friendly, positive attitude
  • Comfortable speaking in front of groups
  • Exceptional customer service skills
  • Detail-oriented
  • Reliable and punctual
  • Strong teamwork and collaboration skills

Physical Demands

  • Speaking in small and large groups
  • Walking and standing outdoors, sometimes for extended periods
  • Bending/stooping frequently
  • Dealing with highly variable weather conditions
  • Ability to lift/carry up to 40 lbs