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Everything you need to know about viewing the solar eclipse in NYC

Written by
Clayton Guse

It's Eclipse Day, New York. 

The rare celestial event is the first time that a total solar eclipse will be visible over American soil in nearly a century. It promises to be one of the most mind-boggling things to see, well, ever and has caused thousands to migrate to the 70-mile-wide stretch from Oregon to South Carolina where the total eclipse will be visible. While New Yorkers won't get a chance to see the moon block out the entirety of the sun, the sight still promises to be captivating. For a brief few moments, the day will turn to night and Americans will have the unique opportunity to view a spectacle that hasn't been visible for nearly a century. 

Here's a rundown of everything you need to know about viewing the eclipse in NYC.

When can I see the eclipse?

The eclipse will begin to cast its shadow over the western United States at roughly 1pm Eastern Time. The shadow will move across the country over the next several hours, and New Yorkers will see the moon start to slip over the sun at 1:23pm. The eclipse will hit its peak in the city at 2:44pm, and will last just a matter of minutes, so be sure you're ready when it arrives. After it peaks, the eclipse will continue to cast its shadow on the city until about 4pm.

How much of the eclipse will I be able to see?

New Yorkers won't get a chance to see the full-blown total eclipse (the closest place to Gotham where that will be visible is in South Carolina), but locals will still be able to see about 70 percent of the sun blocked out by the moon. The sky won't go completely black, but it will be dark enough for the Empire State Building to visibly light up.

How rare is this thing?

The last time a total solar eclipse was visible over so much of the United States was 99 years ago, in 1918. To put it lightly, this event is an incredibly uncommon spectacle. But if for whatever reason you're not able to get outside at 2:44pm, you'll have another chance in 2024, when another total eclipse will pass over the United States (New York will be even closer to the range of totality during that eclipse). 

Where can I score some eclipse glasses?

Eclipse glasses have become one of the hottest commodities in New York City since the Cronut made its debut. Finding a pair online can be a bit expensive (and good luck getting them delivered in time for the event). There are some free options, though. Designer glasses chain Warby Parker is doling out free pairs of eclipse glasses at its storefronts across the city, and New York Public Library and other libraries have pairs on hand as well (while supplies last). NASA has also put together a handy guide for constructing a pinhole projector out of a cereal box if you're out of options. 

If you don't manage to find a pair or craft an alternative, it's important to remember that you should not look at the sun. This ought to go without saying, but staring directly into the celestial orb that lights the entire Earth can cause irreversible damage to your eyeballs. 

Where should I view the eclipse in NYC?

There are ample eclipse viewing events around town at locations ranging from rooftops to parks. If you want to avoid the crowds and take in the special spectacle with the company of your friends and loved ones, find a space with a clear view of the sun.  

Can I take photos of the eclipse?

Sure, but remember that the whole event lasts just a matter of minutes, so if you want to view the spectacle through your phone, be our guest. If you do decide to snap some pics, keep in mind that your photo quality will likely be pretty crummy. Think about any time you've tried to take a photo of the moon with your phone—the image doesn't do the sight justice, does it? We'd recommend leaving the photographing to those with professional equipment—and even then, there's a chance the sun could melt the inside of your camera. If you do want to take photos of something during the eclipse, consider capturing the sight of a massive group of people all looking up at the sun in unison, taking in the glory of the universe. If you want to take it a step further, tag your images on social media with #timeoutnewyork so they hit our radar.

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