Programs, Safety Tips for April 8 Eclipse

Long Island won’t be squarely in the path of the rare total solar eclipse on April 8 but we’ll still see some effects. In New York, the eclipse will be best seen in the western part of the state. Meanwhile, libraries and other institutions are offering ways to learn more and enjoy the phenomenon.

Dave Bush, planetarium director at the Vanderbilt Museum, said Monday that Long Island will see about 90 percent coverage, meaning we most likely will see only a limited dimming. at 3:26 p.m.  “By looking at the sky, we may see some dimming,” he said. “Even if it’s a cloudless day we won’t really see much of a change on the sun.”

Still, as he and countless other experts warn, “You don’t want to look at the sun. It’s dangerous.” Looking directly at the sun during a solar eclipse can cause a temporary loss of vision, or retinal burns.

But even a less-than-total solar eclipse is better than nothing, and Long Islanders will have to wait until 2079 for a total eclipse to occur here.

The Vanderbilt plans two sessions to educate and entertain participants on what a solar eclipse means and looks like. On March 17 at 3 p.m. and at 8 p.m. on April 8, the planetarium will show a simulated partial solar eclipse as it will appear on Long Island. Viewers will also take a virtual trip to an area experiencing totality and discuss ways to safely view the sun.

Eclipse glasses that are approved for viewing of the sun are available for sale at the Vanderbilt.  Counterfeit glasses can be dangerous because they don’t protect the eyes.

Bush also said proper viewing glasses can be purchased from some specialists, such as camera stores, but he didn’t recommend buying from big online sites.

Bush said he witnessed a total eclipse in Wyoming. It was “absolutely amazing,” he said. “It’s just so drastically different from our day to day experiences. During a total eclipse, the stars are out during the totality, so it’s half day, half night. I can’t say it turned me into an eclipse chaser, but I highly recommend you do it some time in your life.”

New York State is planning numerous activities to encourage people to prepare to view the phenomenon. On Long Island, Connequot River State Park Preserve will host two an event March 29, under the heading, Solar Eclipse History. Program and reservations.

Several libraries are planning eclipse-related programs. The Huntington Public Library is distributing kits with eclipse glasses, to members only, which will be available starting Monday. It also has several programs leading up to the main event, for adults and children. Out of This World Babies will feaure a space-themed storytime.

The Northport-East Northport Public Library will offer Adventures of an Eclipse Chaser by Zoom on March 19.

And the Half Hollow Hills Community Library will host students as Eclipse Soundscape Observers, a NASA Citizen Science project studying how eclipses affect life on Earth.


Student Works On View at Heckscher Museum

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