Last-minute solar eclipse glasses and other do’s and don’ts for the day

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What is an eclipse?

The Earth, moon and sun line up perfectly every one to three years, briefly turning day into night for a sliver of the planet. But these sights normally are in no man’s land, like the vast Pacific or the poles. This will be the first eclipse of the social media era to pass through such a heavily populated area.

The moon hasn’t thrown this much shade at the U.S. since 1918. That was the country’s last coast-to-coast total eclipse.

In fact, the U.S. mainland hasn’t seen a total solar eclipse since 1979 — and even then, only five states in the Northwest experienced total darkness before the eclipse veered in Canada.

When is the eclipse?

The eclipse will take place on Monday, August 21.

When exactly will the eclipse be in the New York Metropolitan area?

The eclipse starts in the early afternoon around 1:18 p.m. and it will peak around 2:44 p.m.

How long will it last? 

The peak eclipse will last less than three minutes. The exact length changes depending on where you are in the country.

What will it look like from where I am? 

Only certain parts of the country will get a glimpse of the totality, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be something to see. Nasa has an interactive map.


How can I safely view the eclipse?

You’ll need eclipse glasses, which are regulated by an international safety standard. They’re cheap and widely available, and some libraries are even providing them free.

Whether you use the cardboard eclipse glasses or a handheld card with a single rectangular view, the most important feature is the filter.

Unsafe eclipse glasses bearing the ISO logo and certification label have been flooding the market, according the astronomical society. Websites are also displaying false results that claim to show positive test results for glasses they sell.

To test for safety, the only thing you can see through a safe solar filter is the sun itself. If you look through and the sun is too bright, out of focus or surrounded by a murky haze, or if you can see things like ordinary household lights, the glasses aren’t safe.

You can also make a pinhole projector to view the eclipse.

How can I safely take pictures or video of the eclipse?

We have a full set of tips available here.

What happens if I miss it?

You'll be in for a wait. The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be in 2024. The next coast-to-coast one will not be until 2045.

Are there any local viewing parties?

There are parties in all of the boroughs.