Long Island celebrates near-total solar eclipse at Cradle of Aviation Museum"


Hundreds of residents of Uniondale and other Long Island communities gathered at the Cradle of Aviation Museum for a large watch party on Monday to gaze at the solar eclipse.

The museum, known for its celebrations of science, space and exploration, offered the perfect setting for this historic astronomical event. While the narrow path of totality extended from southwest to northeast across the continental United States, people on Long Island were treated to a near-total eclipse, with the passing moon obscuring most of the sun, reducing it briefly to a slim crescent.

“I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday,” said Alex Rodriguez, of Lindenhurst whose special day coincided with the eclipse. His family organized a celebratory evening for him, which included a stop at the Cradle of Aviation.

“It was pretty cool, and I think my kids enjoyed it, too,” Rodriguez said, adding jokingly, “and they’re not blind now, so that’s good.”

Parents often tell their children not to look directly at the sun, but on Monday afternoon it was allowed — in fact, it was encouraged — as long as they were wearing protective glasses.

People started gathering at the museum as early as 11 a.m., but the real show didn’t start until after 2 p.m., when the moon began to cover the sun. And it wasn’t until about 3:25 that the eclipse hit its peak, at almost 90 percent of totality.

The museum gave out the necessary glasses, as well as solar lenses that allowed smartphones to capture the once-in-decades event for posterity.

“This was amazing,” said Yolette Williams, a resident of East Meadow who attended the watch party with her husband. “This is the kind of thing where if you’re alive, you should go outside and live and be a part of it.

“It was a gorgeous day, the visuals were amazing, and I’m just grateful to be sitting here in person at the Cradle of Aviation and be able to witness such an amazing thing,” Williams added.

The next time Long Island will see a total solar eclipse isn’t until 2079, which made Monday’s out-of-this-world phenomenon just a little bit more memorable, and phenomenal.

If you want to donate your eclipse glasses to a great cause, the Queens College Knights Table is asking people to mail them to a collection center in Utah, which will send them on to Latin America, where there will be an eclipse in August. The address is Eclipse Glasses USA LCC, P.O. Box 50571, Provo, Utah 84605.