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How previous eclipses were seen on Long Island

A fourth-grader at the Holy Spirit School in

A fourth-grader at the Holy Spirit School in New Hyde Park peers through mylar viewers to see the solar eclipse on May 10, 1994. Photo Credit: David Pokress

A large swath of the United States will experience a total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21. While those in the path of totality will see the sun completely blocked out by the moon, Long Islanders will see a sun that’s about 70 percent obscured, weather permitting.  Here’s a look at how some other eclipses were seen – or not seen - on Long Island.

February 26, 1979, was the last total solar eclipse visible from North America in the 20th century. On Long Island, it was to be seen as a 60 percent partial eclipse. Unfortunately, Long Islanders were shut out, as heavy cloud cover and rain eclipsed the eclipse. “Anybody planning to see the eclipse can forget about it,” a Metro Weather Service spokesman told Newsday at the time.

On May 30, 1984, there was an annular eclipse that blocked 94 percent of the sun. According to NASA, an annular eclipse occurs when the moon is at its farthest point from the Earth, so it can't completely cover the sun. The result is a dramatic ring of fire effect. Unfortunately for Long Island sky watchers, there wasn’t much to see. According to Newsday reports, much of the Northeast was covered by a thick bank of clouds associated with a lingering spring storm.

Amateur astronomers had better luck on May 10, 1994, when an 84 percent partial eclipse was visible. Some 500 elementary school students safely watched the eclipse on a monitor at the Vanderbilt Planetarium in Centerport. Ed Quaranta, an educator at the museum, observed at the time that the "uniqueness" of eclipses is what makes them so special.  After all, it’ll be far-off 2017 before an opportunity like this presents itself again on the East Coast, Quaranta said.

What can be expected for August 21? Check the weather. And be sure to follow safety instructions if you’re planning to view the eclipse directly.



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