Where to watch Monday’s solar eclipse

On Monday, April 8 the moon will perfectly align with the sun, casting a massive shadow across the Earth. And although such solar eclipses occur at least twice each year, due to the size of the planet, the effect is only visible from certain areas, which, more often that not, are out in the middle of the ocean. That’s why Monday’s celestial event is getting so much attention: the so-called “path of totality” will sweep across the heart of the United States, from southeast Texas to northeast Maine. Here on the East End, where Monday’s weather is expected to clear, the moon will cover roughly 90% of the sun, creating a partial eclipse, which will peak between 3 and 3:30 p.m.

Several area parks and other local organizations are hosting events to celebrate the rare viewing opportunity, which won’t happen again in our area until 2044.

The New York State Department of Parks is hosting a free event at Hallock State Park Preserve in Riverhead from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. George Lomaga, a retired professor of Astronomy and Geology at Suffolk County Community College, will have viewing equipment on hand, including a telescope fitted with a protective solar lens, according to the park’s website. Park staff will offer insights and interactive activities on the phenomenon’s effect on area wildlife. Registered guests will also receive a free pair of eclipse viewing glasses.

The Custer Institute and Observatory in Southold is also hosting a viewing from 2:30 to 4 p.m. the ticketed event includes a glimpse through their state-of-the-art telescopes and a pair of certified safe viewing glasses. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for children under 16 and $5 for observatory members. There is limited space and registration is strongly encouraged.

Proper eye protection is important during a solar eclipse — regular sunglasses are not sufficient. “The most important step to ensure New Yorkers enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime event is to protect your eyes,” New York State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said in a press release. “ISO certified eclipse glasses will shield your eyes from serious and possibly permanent damage, which can occur by looking at the eclipse with regular sunglasses or without any eye protection.”

Both Riverhead Free Library and Orient Beach State Park have certified solar viewing glasses available. 

Steve Bellavia, research, education and outreach coordinator at Custer Institute notes that Monday is also a good time to spot the comet 12P Pons-Brooks, which he said might be visible to the naked eye during the eclipse since it will be just 24 degrees east of the sun and approaching its perihelion — when its orbit is closest to the center of our solar system.