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Long Island

Partial solar eclipse is the big event across Long Island

Long Islanders gathered at beaches, museums and other places to look skyward as a partial solar eclipse passed over the area between roughly 1:25 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. In some parts of the United States, crowds were awed by totality -- a period of minutes when the moon blocked the sun in its entirety -- while Long Islanders saw just 71 percent coverage. (Credit: Newsday staff)

People on and around Long Island marked the occasion of the partial solar eclipse in varying ways. Here are some dispatches:

Garden City

The Cradle of Aviation Museum’s supply of nearly 1,000 cardboard eclipse glasses ran out quickly as thousands flocked to its eclipse viewing event.

Extended families, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and people of all ages lined up for tickets, glasses and pinhole projectors, and then, in a celebratory mood, experienced what the museum dubbed the Great North American Eclipse.

“I am very excited about the turnout,” said Kerri Kiker, the museum’s planetarian education coordinator who had tried to spread out the glasses as far as possible by giving a single one to family groups for sharing. “It’s a great surprise to see how many people are interested in this event.”

Outdoor tables offered workshops in making pinhole cameras, while indoors educators explained the science behind the phenomenon. People could write messages on slips of paper to go into a time capsule to be opened in 2024, the year of the next eclipse over North America.

“This is awesome,” said Peter Thompson II, 44, of Uniondale. The NYPD detective leaned back in a lawn chair with his son Peter Thompson III, 9, on his lap, eyes trained on the sun through their dark eclipse glasses. “I first saw one in 1979 when I was 7, and now I get to appreciate it more as an adult. I get to be part of history with my little man.”

Mary Jo Saint Surin, a mother who accompanied 20 scouts from St. Christopher’s Church Troop 824 in Baldwin, said it was exciting to view the eclipse together. “This is excitement for them, to share this as a community, as a troop.”

The light dimmed only partially, as the moon covered 71 percent of the sun over New York, with its midway point coming at 2:44:45 p.m.

Nonetheless, Girl Scout troop 2502’s Keira, 9, of Massapequa, who came with hundreds of fellow scouts from the Girl Scouts of Nassau County (which requested that only first name be published), said she was “really excited” to experience her first time seeing an eclipse. “I’m not going to be able to see this against for another 7 years.”

— Carol Polsky


Most visitors to Jake’s 58 casino in this Suffolk County community remained focused on penny slots or poker and were not distracted even by an extremely rare celestial event.

“I don’t care about no stinkin’ eclipse,” one woman seated at a slot machine said to her friend about 2:40 p.m. just as the eclipse was reaching its peak. She glanced up only briefly at the sun through the casino’s expansive glass ceiling and continued to play.

Her friend, though, walked to an outdoor patio where a few others had gathered to catch a glimpse of the moon sliding across the face of the sun.

Suzanne Aiello, 72, of Bellport, took a break from playing the slots to view the eclipse with the special protective glasses her daughter had ordered online for her. She passed them around to the others nearby.

“I knew I couldn’t miss it,” Aiello said. “It’s very cool.”

Shana Braff, a cocktail server at the casino, came outside to take orders from customers and sneak a peek herself.

“I just wanted to take a look,” said Braff of Holtsville. “I was expecting a lot more people to come out here.”

— Rachel Uda

Jones Beach

Krupakar Shodavaram had seen his first eclipse as a teenager growing up in Southern India. He and his brothers broke out glass from a picture frame and held a candle close to darken the surface. Through that they spied a total eclipse.

“That’s also another way to see,” Rebecca Shodavaram said.

“It’s like this glass,” she said, holding up her cardboard eclipse glasses, “very dark.”

The two shared their pair of cardboard glasses with Don and Morleen Novitt, of Seaford and Arizona, who had none.

“We didn’t expect this amount of kindness,” Don Novitt said. “I’ll always remember it. It’s totally amazing.”

Nearby Frank Dell had a piece of welder’s glass he bought for under $20 back in 1979 for the last eclipse. He fit it into a cardboard frame and passed it around, the glass revealing the sun in more vibrant green than the regular eclipse glasses.

“It was a good investment,” said the Floral Park resident.

They watched a bit, waiting for the moon to move through.

“It’s an eclipse party,” Novitt said.

“So many people from so many different places,” Rebecca Shodavaram said.

And then the group slowly began to trickle away as the moon moved on.

“When you see people coming together for an event like this, you see how small we all are,” Novitt said. “We’re all fascinated by what goes on in the universe and I think that makes us stop and come together.”

— Emily C. Dooley

Citi Field

Leave it to an eclipse to mess up a plan. The Mets had to move their third annual Mets Military Softball Classic two hours earlier to ensure the safety of the players.

The event, which featured members of the Air Force, Army, Marines, Coast Guard and Navy, pitted the branches against each other in a round-robin softball tournament.

After the games, special eclipse glasses were distributed to softball players and their families and they were escorted out to the field in Queens to watch as celestial event unfolded.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, a retired Marine, spoke to the participants before the game.

“I was in the military for a little over four year,” Alderson told reporters. “Some of my closest friends, some of my fondest memories come from those days. I know that the servicemen and women here are experiencing the same things and their service time will have the same impact on them as it did on me.”

— Jordan Lauterbach


More than 100 people gathered on the new deck of Hudsons on the Mile restaurant.

Owner Butch Yamali used the celestial occasion to formally open the restaurant’s new “solar deck” — overlooking the Nautical Mile — in a brief ceremony. The restaurant gave out free eclipse glasses and served $6 “Cosmic Cosmo” cocktails.

Mayor Robert Kennedy noted the Nautical Mile had been devastated during superstorm Sandy and the restaurant’s rebuilding and expansion are great for his village’s economic development.

Melody and Ross Schiller of East Meadow brought their children, Hailey, 15, and David, 12.

Ross Schiller, 47, is an attorney who took off from work. His wife, Melody, 45, is a reading teacher who said she’s looking forward to discussing it with her students when school resumes.

“I think it’s great for the kids to be involved and care about science,” Ross said. “It’s science and math and history.”

Jessica Henry, 28, of Freeport and her boyfriend of nearly a year, the Rev. Louis Tillman, 26, of North Philadelphia sipped a mojito and ginger ale as she snapped cellphone photos of the eclipse through the glasses handed out by the restaurant.

“I thought it was cool to be on a deck up to see it, closer up,” she said.

Charles Renick, 91, and his daughter Christina Sobel, 47, said they had expected the sky to go “a bit darker.”

Renick saw an eclipse when he was about 8 in West Virginia but he didn’t remember it. With the next eclipse due in 2024, Sobel vowed to Renick to watch it in seven years “in your honor, no matter what.”

— Stefanie Dazio

Port Jefferson

Dozens of kids and their parents gathered at the Maritime Explorium on the North Shore.

“Everyone’s bringing their little ones to see the eclipse,” said museum executive director Angeline Judex.

Judex had ordered 70 eclipse glasses but they were quickly snatched up. “We ran out pretty quickly,” she said.

Rosell Larsen, 7, of West Hempstead, said this was already the second eclipse she’s witnessed in her short life — “we saw a lunar eclipse,” explained Rich Meyer, her mother’s boyfriend. “I liked when the moon eclipsed the sun,” Rosell offered.

A few grown-ups like Jessica Nardi also found their way to the museum on their own to watch the eclipse. “It’s pretty awesome,” said Nardi, who lives in Ronkonkoma, as she observed using a postcard punctured with a pinhole. “You would never think this would work,” she said.

There was also some science taking place at the explorium Monday. Neil Heft, an amateur radio enthusiast from Centereach and volunteer for the crowdsourcing project EclipseMob, told attendees about how the group was involved in monitoring low-frequency radio-wave transmission at more than 150 different locations across America during the eclipse. Each location monitored the signal coming from either WWVB in Fort Collins, Colorado or from a Navy transmitter in central California. Heft said the data collected will be analyzed to determine if the solar eclipse had an effect as radio signals travel on different paths. “The last time the scientists had an opportunity to do something like this was during the 1925 solar eclipse” but the data wasn’t standardized, he said.

— Sophia Chang


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