Partial solar eclipse to occur at dawn Sunday

A partial annular solar eclipse is seen from A partial annular solar eclipse is seen from the coast of Xiamen, in China's southeast province of Fujian. (May 21, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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A partial solar eclipse will occur at dawn Sunday, but cloudy skies will make getting a glimpse of the rare event tricky for Long Islanders.

The National Weather Service is predicting mostly cloudy skies at sunrise, which will begin at 6:25 a.m. on Sunday. (At 2 a.m. Sunday, daylight saving time ends and the clocks are supposed to be set back, allowing for an extra hour of sleep.)

The weather conditions will make seeing the solar eclipse -- when the moon covers the sun -- very difficult even with a nice view of the eastern horizon.

"We're a little pessimistic about getting any clear visibility. But perhaps there will be some breaks in the clouds and those who are looking for the solar eclipse will get lucky," meteorologist David Stark said.

Still, about a dozen members of the The Astronomical Society of Long Island plan to watch the event Sunday on the beach at Robert Moses State Park, said John Speroni, the club's vice president.

"Yeah, we're going down and taking our chances. Afterward we'll go to a diner and have breakfast," said Speroni, 45, of Huntington, who works as a systems analyst for the Department of Transportation in New York City.

The club has about 80 members and meets weekly at the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium in Centerport. "I think every beach on the South Shore of Long Island will have at least someone on it trying to watch," Speroni said.

Those venturing out to see the solar eclipse should remember not to look directly at the sun without special filters that block ultraviolet light. Even sunglasses are not adequate eye protection. For information about safe eyewear, visit eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEhelp/safety.html.

Temperatures across Long Island are expected to be in the low 40s at sunrise on Sunday with 5 to 10 mph winds and some stronger gusts, Stark said.

The weather service has also issued a freeze watch for central and eastern Long Island from late Sunday night into early Monday morning. Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 20s and lower 30s, with the pine barrens forecast to get the coldest weather. A freeze watch means below freezing temperatures are possible; such temperatures can kill crops and other sensitive vegetation.

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