The Cosmic Ballet

On the afternoon of Monday, April 8, 2024, the sun will duck behind the moon for a few minutes — a total eclipse of the sun. It is being dubbed the "Great American Eclipse," as it will be visible across almost the entire continent. (Western Canada and Alaska are the lone exceptions.)

Hopefully you have marked your calendar, you have eclipse viewing glasses ready to go, and you have plans to witness this rare cosmic phenomenon.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017 (Justin Louis)
Total Solar Eclipse 2017 (Justin Louis)

You do not need to make special plans or review special instructions to see the eclipse. Just go outside and look up. (Again, with proper protection please.)

Having said that, you will find even better options, both in New Jersey and beyond, to make your eclipse viewing even more spectacular and memorable.

In Search of Totality

Remember, this will not be a total eclipse of the sun anywhere in New Jersey. The sun will only be 84 to 94 percent in shadow here. The United States' path of totality lies from Texas to Maine, so you will have to drive 4 to 6+ hours (or fly or take a train) to see the real show.

Because NJ will not experience a totality phase, you will need to utilize eclipse glasses or some other solar filter, which blocks up to 98% of light and harmful UV radiation. Never look directly at the sun with the naked eye.

The Best Place in NJ to Watch?

What is my personal choice for New Jersey's primo spot to witness the solar eclipse? Drive north, my friends. And then climb to an elevation of 1,803 feet above sea level.

I would drive up to High Point in Sussex County.

High Point State Park
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

(Note: I can't actually go there on solar eclipse day, because I will be on the radio with live weather and eclipse updates!)

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First of all, High Point State Park is free from obstructions and distractions, overlooking New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. On a clear day, you can see for dozens of miles in all directions. Obviously, that allows for a perfect view of the entire sky.

Foliage at High Point State Park
Photo by Bill Doyle / Townsquare Media

Furthermore, you are surrounded by natural beauty — trees, hills, lakes, etc. I can't think of a more picturesque setting to watch one of nature's most spectacular displays.

Finally, the northwestern corner of the state conveniently features the deepest eclipse in New Jersey, as it lies closest to the path of totality. Monday afternoon, approximately 93% of the sun will be obscured at High Point.


Fair warning before you take a hike up into the mountains: You will not be alone. I suspect High Point and similar natural sites in NW NJ will attract many NJ eclipse chasers. Get there early, and bring plenty of supplies.

NJ Eclipse Parties

This is just a sampling of New Jersey eclipse events I have come across. Check with local libraries, recreation departments, school districts, museums, astronomy clubs, and scouting groups for additional special viewing opportunities.

Solar Eclipse viewing glasses in NJ
Here's where to get Solar Eclipse viewing glasses in NJ (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Liberty Science Center in Jersey City will host what it's touting as "New Jersey's largest astronomy party". They will have free solar viewing glasses for museum visitors, special shows and interactive activities, and a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon laser show to close out the day.

The Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook is hosting an Eclipse Watch Party. On the beach! National Park Service park rangers, the Sandy Hook Foundation, and S.T.A.R. Astronomy will be on hand with safety glasses and information. Park at Sandy Hook Lot E, and don't forget beach chairs and sunscreen.

The Land Conservancy of New Jersey will be gathering at the South Branch Preserve in Budd Lake for a solar eclipse party. Free viewing glasses, snacks, and activities are planned.

In Morristown, the Morris Museum Astronomical Society will offer both visual and telescope viewing of the solar eclipse, from their parking deck. They do caution that parking will be limited.

In South Jersey, Rowan University's Edelman Planetarium in Glassboro will have free eclipse glasses for distribution the morning of April 8th. Students, faculty, staff, and friends are invited for telescopes, music, photo stations and more at Robinson Circle.

Solar Eclipse 2017
A man observes the 2017 solar eclipse using a simple pinhole projector. (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

Finally, one more cool note about an NJ institution that will not be having a special eclipse event.

The Raritan Valley Community College Planetarium has been hyping the solar eclipse since the beginning of the year. And now that it's here? They're closed. According to their web site, "The RVCC Planetarium will be closed Friday, April 5 – Monday, April 15 so all our staff can travel to the path of totality and watch the Total Solar Eclipse." Good for them!

Happy sungazing to all!

Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Check out Dan's weather blog or follow him on Facebook for your latest weather forecast updates.

Solar eclipse mania! What NJ sungazers need to know for April 8, 2024

Gallery Credit: Dan Zarrow

LOOK! Every solar eclipse to affect NJ through 2100

From partial to complete totality, here's a complete look at every upcoming solar eclipse affecting New Jersey throughout the 21st century, according to Peak times are approximate and will vary based on precise viewing location.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

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