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Long Island

Long Islanders marvel as partial solar eclipse comes and goes

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

This story was reported by Rachelle Blidner, Emily C. Dooley, Patricia Kitchen, Bridget Murphy and Carol Polsky. It was written by Kitchen.

By the thousands, Long Islanders absorbed the partial solar eclipse Monday from beaches, backyards, workplaces and even courthouse steps.

As they marveled at the sky, they shared viewing devices, gathered with friends or strangers, and joined in on the tricky business of eclipse photos and selfies.

The eclipse was partial on the Island, with 71 percent of the midafternoon sun concealed by the moon, leaving just a small, bright crescent in the mostly cloudless sky.

Dozens of people gathered on the steps of the Nassau County Courthouse to watch the eclipse together, including judges and prosecutors, with one person quipping, “What else could bring us together?”

“Actually seeing it was like, wow that’s amazing,” said Court Officer Ravena Garbutt, who had borrowed Court Sgt. Matt Grover’s eclipse-viewing glasses to snap a photo.

Also popular were viewing events at libraries, museums and nature centers. At the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, which estimated several thousand people in attendance, fewer than 1,000 pairs of eclipse glasses were on hand, so staff gave a single pair to family groups for sharing and handed out pinhole projectors as well.

For many campers at Indian Island County Park in Riverhead, the partial eclipse just added to a beautiful beach day.

Campers enjoyed the afternoon on beach chairs, floats and kayaks as the moon largely blocked the sun over the Peconic River.

Christine Martinez of Selden said she came with her family to fish and said she thought the eclipse “really isn’t a big thing.”

But Martinez changed her mind once she peered through a pair of eclipse glasses and soon called over her daughter and niece to take a look.

“That’s amazing,” she said.

Some had a hankering to see the total eclipse and traveled to a narrow strip, around 70 or so miles wide, running from Oregon to South Carolina, where the sun was eclipsed 100 percent.

Stephanie Burns, who with her family viewed totality in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, just northeast of Nashville, said it was “incredibly breathtaking. People screamed and were in awe.”

“The cicadas began chirping about seven minutes before totality and finished about 5-7 minutes after.” The sky dimmed and temperatures dropped dramatically, said Burns, an earth science and astronomy teacher at Connetquot High School in Bohemia.

Viewing in Casper, Wyoming, was Sue Rose of East Meadow, along with 27 members of the Amateur Observers’ Society of New York, of which she is president.

There was plenty of whooping there as totality was reached, and an hour or so later, Rose said she was “still on the biggest adrenaline high.”

While this was her fourth total eclipse, this year’s was special as “the whole country got to see some part of it, bringing people together for something special.”

That was the feeling at Jones Beach, too, where a small group gathered under a gazebo near the East Bathhouse took in the solar show together. Strangers became friends as they passed around eclipse glasses and homemade devices.

“It is a heavenly phenomenon,” Bellmore resident Rebecca Shodavaram said after watching 71 percent of the sun blocked by the moon. “You cannot duplicate that.”

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