Rare and special cosmic event can be seen in NJ this spring
🌒A total solar eclipse will happen on April 8
🌒We will be able to see it in New Jersey
🌒You will need special glasses to see this rare event
Mark April 8 on your calendar.
That is the day we will be able to see a partial solar eclipse in New Jersey and other parts of the U.S.
What is an eclipse?
A solar eclipse is when the moon comes between the Earth and the sun and casts a shadow on the Earth from the sunlight, said Cara Muscio, associate director of The Robert J. Novins Planetarium at Ocean County College in Toms River.
Technically, the moon comes between Earth and the sun every month. That is called the “new moon." But the way the planets are aligned is not necessarily exact so there is no solar eclipse every month.
Once in a while, everything lines up enough that it appears the moon covers the sun. But everything has to be exact, a perfect alignment, she said.
Muscio said there is some type of solar eclipse somewhere in the world twice a year. But we often cannot see it because either it happens over water, at sunrise, or at some other inconvenient time.
What makes the April 8 eclipse so special?
“This is a really big eclipse on April 8 because it goes across the entire continent of North America from Mexico all the way across the U.S. up into Canada. Even though that’s a huge path across a large continent, it’s like one percent of the Earth’s surface,” Muscio.
She added that while technically there are two solar eclipses a year, it’s very rare to see a total solar eclipse at the right time and at the right time where you are, and that’s what makes this one on April 8 such a special event.
The path of this eclipse will be so big across the country of people who will see totality and it will go through so many populated areas. So, there are so many opportunities to see it, she said.
The last time the U.S. had a total solar eclipse was not too long ago. It was in August 2017. That path was also huge, but it was different. Muscio said the path went from the Pacific Northwest to the South.
“However, the next one (total solar eclipse) that is going to be visible across North America and the continental United States is not until 2044, and in 2045, we’re going to have a couple,” Muscio said.
Let’s Be Clear
Muscio wants everyone to be clear that New Jersey will not see a total solar eclipse on April 8, but it will be pretty darn close.
“For us, it’s going to be about 89% of the sun, so most of the sun is going to be covered where we live,” she said.
If you want to see a complete, total solar eclipse on April 8, you’ll have to travel north to Eerie or Buffalo. The path of totality stretches through upstate New York.
Timing of the Eclipse
We are not going to be in complete darkness immediately on April 8, but Muscio said the eclipse will take place over the course of a few hours during the day when the moon appears to be covering the sun.
The timeline unfolds like this:
Muscio said the solar eclipse will start on Monday, April 8 at 2:09 pm. She said you will not see 90 percent coverage at this time. This is just the start or the first hint of the eclipse.
The maximum 90 percent coverage is scheduled to happen at 3:24 p.m. That’s when most of the sun will be covered. There will be some level of the eclipse until 4:36 p.m.
Safety is Key
You should absolutely not look up at the eclipse either with the naked eye or with regular sunglasses, Muscio warned.
To see the eclipse while protecting your eyes, you will need approved sun protection glasses. There is an international certification for solar viewers.
The Robert J. Novins Planetarium is selling properly approved glasses to check out the eclipse, as well as every other planetarium in the state. The glasses can also be ordered online.
The planetarium hands out a safety sheet with every pair of eclipse glasses that explains what an eclipse is and how to view it safely.
No matter where you buy them, make sure the glasses have ISO certification, she said. Anybody using glasses must be approved and safe to use.
If you decide to see the eclipse with binoculars or a telescope, you must have an approved solar filter that is on the end of the telescope or binoculars or it will damage your eyes, she said.
Just like in 2017, people will most likely be taking part in eclipse parties. Muscio said the planetarium will be hosting a big party in partnership with Ocean County College. However, details of the party and celebration are still in the planning stages.
Be sure to check the website and of course all over social media for details of this party and others around the state.
You can purchase tickets here.