One of the great things about living in NYC is that everything comes to you. We’ve got the best restaurants, the biggest movie premieres, the most popular artists; if it’s happening and it’s hot, you can bet it’s coming to a theater near you. Unfortunately, next week, we will be presented with a huge exception to this rule when the hottest act ever skips us. It’s the upcoming total solar eclipse—taking place midday on Monday, August 21—and New Yorkers are getting the shaft.
Solar eclipses happen when our moon passes between the Earth and the sun in such a way that the shadow from the moon blocks sunlight; a total eclipse blocks the sun entirely from the sky. Obviously, the moon’s shadow only covers a small part of the Earth, and it passes fairly quickly; the fabled “totality” will only last in one location for less than three minutes. Total solar eclipses occur a few times a year and are visible from somewhere on the planet, but the last one that was visible in parts of the U.S. dates back to 1979. The 2017 eclipse is extra-rare insofar as its full path falls coast-to-coast across the continental United States, diagonally between Oregon and South Carolina, providing the potential for what may be the most-seen total eclipse in history. The bad news is that for a New Yorker to experience the elusive event, you’ll have to travel a bit. And by “a bit” I mean about 800 miles to the closest state in the eclipse corridor, Tennessee, where most local hotels are already sold out.
So what will New Yorkers get to see? Residents of the five boroughs will experience a partial eclipse; the moon’s shadow will block, at maximum, up to 70 percent of the sun. The show starts at around 1:30 p.m., maxes out at 2:45 p.m., and ends around 4 p.m.
Want to make the most of it? Safety first: Just like your kindergarten teacher told you back in the day, you should never look directly into the sun without the proper protection. Even at the eclipse’s height, that 30 percent exposure can do serious damage to your eyes. This NASA cheat sheet should give you all the information you need to keep your peepers peeping, but the most important thing is that you’ll need to wear special “eclipse glasses” to sneak a look. Luckily, the folks at Warby Parker are offering cardboard 3-D-style eclipse glasses for free at any of the brand’s brick-and-mortar locations.
Maybe you’re the kind of person who can’t leave an eclipse well enough alone, partial or not. If that’s the case, I’d recommend heading to the American Museum of Natural History starting at noon for a lecture and outdoor group viewing on the museum’s terrace; the event coverage is free with a museum ticket. If you’d prefer to watch in the Bronx, there’s a free viewing party happening at the New York Public Library in Pelham Bay. For Brooklynites, the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York will be meeting at Pioneer Works starting at 1 p.m. If you’d like to make the most of your daytime twilight, running group Moon Joggers is sponsoring a virtual 5K and 10K to be completed any time between the beginning and end of the eclipse. A $17 registration fee gets you a nifty Total Eclipse of the Sun Run medal.
But if you really can’t take a midday break to see a once-in-a-generation natural wonder, don’t despair. You can always stream the eclipse online while listening to our custom curated Eclipse Spotify playlist…and maybe consider using a total eclipse stamp to mail in your resignation letter? Your boss has blocked your shine for long enough.