A total eclipse takes place when the moon passes between...

A total eclipse takes place when the moon passes between the sun and earth, obscuring the view of the sun from a small part of the earth. Credit: Idaho Statesman / Kyle Green via TNS

On Aug. 21, 2017, Alan Cousins, of Brightwaters, witnessed something extraordinary. He traveled to South Carolina to see a total solar eclipse.

“It was ethereal and just fascinating to watch,” says Cousins, 60, who serves as the vice president of the Custer Institute & Observatory in Southold. “It’s intriguing for us as humans to experience that change in surroundings. Plus, listening to the wildlife during totality was interesting because they thought it was nighttime and started making their nighttime noises.”

A total eclipse takes place when the moon passes between the sun and earth, obscuring the view of the sun from a small part of the earth. The next solar eclipse is set for April 8 and Long Island is getting prepared. Although Nassau and Suffolk counties are not in the path of totality, residents can see just under 90% coverage.

“It’s a rarity,” says Cousins. “Total eclipses require precise alignment between the centers of the sun and moon because the moon’s apparent size in the sky is sometimes too small to fully cover the sun.”

Here are eclipse events to attend in celebration of this cosmic occurrence.

Solar eclipse viewing party at the Cradle

The Cradle of Aviation Museum in Uniondale drew more than 2,000 people to its last solar eclipse viewing in 2017.

The expected path of the total solar eclipse, April 8. Credit: AP

“When the eclipse happened, everybody just stopped and experienced it together,” says Kerri Kiker, theater manager. “It was quite a moment.”

This time around, the Cradle will offer attendees to construct pinhole projectors, which is a safe way to view the solar eclipse.

“It’s made of thick paper and tin foil. The paper blocks any light from coming through and the tin foil, which goes around the little hole, reflects any of the light back and projects the shadow onto the ground,” says Kiker. “This way you can see the moon moving across the sun in a pinhole projection of light.”

The event will also feature eye safety activities teaching people about how to properly protect themselves.

“We sell solar eclipse glasses which are needed for safety,” says Kiker. Glasses are $3. “If you don’t get the right ones, it can cause severe eye damage. We even have goggles that show you what the eye damage is.”

Plus, there are demonstrations explaining what causes an eclipse.

“The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, it’s 400 times closer to us and that's what allows the moon to cover the sun,” says Kiker, who notes alignment demonstrations will be held.

Those wanting to mark the occasion can pick up solar eclipse stickers ($2) and buttons ($1.50) in the gift shop.

WHEN | WHERE Noon-4:45 p.m., April 8, the Cradle of Aviation Museum, Charles Lindbergh Blvd., Uniondale

MORE INFO 516-572-4111, cradleofaviation.org

ADMISSION $18, $16 ages 2 to 12 and 62 and over, includes museum admission

Watch the eclipse with a crowd at the Custer Institute

Witness the solar eclipse from the Custer Institute & Observatory in Southold through filtered high-powered, state-of-the-art telescopes and using certified safe solar eclipse viewing glasses, which are provided to all attendees.

“The sun will only be partially covered in Southold — about 89%,” says Cousins. “However, it will be more impressive than what Long Island witnessed during the 2017 eclipse because of the increase in coverage.”

The weather-permitting event can comfortably accommodate up to 200 people. Advance registration is encouraged. Bring a blanket or chair to comfortably view the eclipse from the lawn.

“In New York State, the path of totality will be about 110 miles wide and will pass over upstate locations like Buffalo, Rochester, Watertown and Plattsburgh. Those in the middle of the path aka the ‘centerline’ could experience up to 3½ minutes of totality,” says Cousins. “Overall, the eclipse path will make landfall in Mexico, pass through the contiguous United States and exit the continent through eastern Canada."

WHEN | WHERE 2:30 p.m., April 8, Custer Institute and Observatory, 1115 Main Bayview Rd., Southold

MORE INFO 631-765-2626, custerobservatory.org

ADMISSION $10, $8 ages 15 and younger, $5 members

Catch the solar eclipse at the LI Explorium

View the solar eclipse from the doorsteps of the Long Island Explorium in Port Jefferson. The eclipse begins at 2:12 p.m. hitting 85-90% totality from Long Island at approximately 3:27 p.m. and ending at 4:37 p.m.

Safety glasses are provided for each participant. Preregister now.

WHEN | WHERE 1 p.m., April 8, Long Island Explorium, 101 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson

MORE INFO 631-331-3277, longislandexplorium.org

ADMISSION $10, limited availability

Go to NYS parks

Experience the solar eclipse surrounded by nature as New York State parks are being designated by Gov. Kathy Hochul as public viewing spots. Long Islanders can head to Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park as well as Connetquot River State Park Preserve in Oakdale.

In honor of the event, New York State is providing limited edition “I LOVE NY” eclipse glasses. Complimentary pairs (two per person, while supplies) can be picked up at the Long Island Welcome Center, located at 5100 Long Island Expy. (eastbound between Exits 51 and 52), in Dix Hills, which is open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Please note supplies are extremely limited.

WHEN | WHERE 2-4 p.m., April 8; Sunken Meadow State Park, New York State Reference Rte. 908K, Kings Park; Connetquot River State Park, 4090 Sunrise Hwy., Oakdale

MORE INFO parks.ny.gov

ADMISSION Free

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