Get excited—today, the United States will catch a glimpse of a rare astronomical event: a total eclipse, caused when the moon moves directly between the sun and the earth.
The eclipse is expected to be visible across most of the U.S., though the part of the country that will experience totality—i.e., when the moon completely blocks the sun—is far more limited. According to our pals at Vox, the path of the totality is only about 70 miles wide, and will be best viewed in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, and the Southeast.
What does that mean for New Yorkers? Find out here:
When to see the eclipse
In New York City, the eclipse will begin happening at 1:23 p.m., and end around 4 p.m. The peak time will be around 2:44 p.m.—set your phone alarm now—and at that point, the city will experience about 70 percent totality, according to the Amateur Astronomers’ Association of New York.
That’s not exactly blackout conditions, but it’ll still be pretty cool. (Vox also has a handy interactive tool that tells you how much of the eclipse you’ll be able to see in your zip code.)
Where to see the eclipse
If you want to experience the totality of the eclipse in some fashion, your best bet is to head to the American Museum of Natural History: The Hayden Planetarium will host a viewing event, in which the NASA live feed of the eclipse will be projected inside the Rose Center for Earth and Space.
The AAA is planning a viewing event at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, where they’ll provide solar glasses and have telescopes on hand to make viewing (safely!) a bit easier.
There’s also a nationwide effort among public libraries to distribute special solar eclipse glasses, and to serve as a point for information during the eclipse. In New York, libraries in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx are participating.
For more suggestions on places to view the eclipse, check out our guide here.
How to safely watch the eclipse
The biggest thing to remember: Do not look at the sun during an eclipse. Seriously, just don’t—Vox explains why. If you haven’t already procured a pair of eclipse glasses, you’re probably SOL; the demand for those, which resemble 3-D glasses but let you safely watch the eclipse as it happens, has been high, with people waiting on long lines and vendors selling out.
So what to do if you don’t have eclipse glasses? Jason Kendall, a physics professor at William Patterson University and an AAA board member, recommends creating a pinhole camera. “Basically a tiny hole in a piece of cardboard where you shine the light coming through the pinhole onto white paper,” he explains. “You'll see the eclipse easily and safely that way.”
You can also check out NASA’s safety tips, and Vox also has a guide to watching the eclipse safely if it’s your first time. (Another tip? Don’t try to Instagram the darn thing while it happens.)
New York’s next solar eclipse
The next time a significant eclipse will make its way around the five boroughs will be 2024, when the moon will cover about 89 percent of the sun during a solar event. As for a total solar eclipse, New Yorkers will have to wait until 2079 for that—hey, this is why we say it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event.
We’ll update this post as more information becomes available in the weeks leading up to the eclipse.