City Limits’ reporters are excited to see the eclipse. Here’s a roundup of local viewing parties, where to get free glasses and how to access the state’s sun- and moon-themed playlist.

Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Commissioners from Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration don viewing glasses at a recent press conference about preparations for the eclipse.

The last time New York state saw a total solar eclipse was 99 years ago.

On the afternoon of April 8, the empire state will once again witness the moon pass between the sun and earth and completely obscure the sun’s light. For those counties that are in the eclipse’s path of totality, where it’s possible to see the moon block the sun’s light entirely, day will become night for about four minutes.

Watching the eerie phenomena unfold in the sky will be a unique opportunity since a total eclipse won’t be seen on the East Coast again until 2045. Last time an eclipse spanned the United States in 2017, New York was outside the path of totality.

The total eclipse will encompass 29 counties in the western and northern parts of the state, reaching cities like Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse. In the areas with most coverage, the window for complete darkness will take place some time between 3:17 and 3:30 p.m., according to the state’s eclipse tracker. Residents can also check if they’re in the path of totality using this NASA-sponsored tool.

But in areas like New York City that will only witness a partial eclipse “there will still be 88 percent to over 99 percent coverage,” of the sun according to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s press office.

In the Big Apple, the best time to see it will be between 2:45 and 3:30 p.m., the New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation told City Limits. And parks are the best places to get an unobstructed view.

“Based on the amount of sky that you’re gonna be able to see in our parks versus in some of the denser parts of the city, the parks are the best place to be,” said New York City Urban Parks Ranger Ben Young III. “Hopefully our parks will be looking at some record crowds.” 

Looking at the sun during an eclipse can be dangerous: it can burn the retina and cause permanent damage to your vision. Those who plan to watch must wear glasses with an ISO rating, an internationally recognized standard for filtering out harmful ultraviolet light.

Five city-owned parks will make viewing glasses and a telescope available to anyone who wants to watch the eclipse on a first-come, first-serve basis. The telescope uses a solar filter with a higher degree of filtration than the glasses, allowing viewers to look directly at the eclipse with the naked eye.

The city sponsored viewing events will take place at  Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx and Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan, Bowling Green Cottage in Brooklyn, Beach 44th Street in the Rockaways and Freshkills Park in Staten Island. 

Shirley Chisholm State Park in southeastern Brooklyn is also hosting a solar eclipse viewing party and hike between 2 and 4 p.m. 

And across the state, other preparations are already underway. 

Gov. Hochul boasted  that she has been gearing up for the event since the fall of 2022. An interagency task force “comprised of nearly two dozen state agencies and authorities, has been collaborating on plans to ensure a safe and memorable viewing experience for New York State’s residents and visitors,” a press release said. 

That includes the creation of a Spotify playlist featuring 84 sun and moon-themed songs. Hochul also launched a statewide effort last month to distribute limited-edition “I LOVE NY” eclipse glasses at 30 locations throughout the state. In New York City, they can be picked up at Moynihan Train Hall in Penn Station at the MTA Long Island Rail Road ticket windows. Glasses are limited to two pairs per person while supplies last, according to a spokesperson.

The city’s public libraries are also making glasses available at branches on a first-come, first-serve basis. But be aware: they only distribute one pair per person.

Some New Yorkers have been stocking up on glasses and preparing for the eclipse for months.

“I’ve been nerding out”, said Dorian Batt, a 40-year-old anesthesiologist who picked up a pair of glasses at the New York Public Library branch at Lincoln Center.

She didn’t know the city was handing them out for free,and had already bought a case on Amazon a few weeks earlier to share with colleagues at work. 

“I’m excited for this because it’s a once in a generation experience,” she added.

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