On May 28 in the year 585 B.C.E. a total solar eclipse ended a decade-long war. On the river Halys, in modern day Turkey, a battle raged between the Medes and the Lydians. As the moon began to move across the sun, the soldiers became weary. When the sun was fully blocked, they laid down their arms. Both sides refused to continue the fight and a peace treaty was signed.
Alas, no amount of solar eclipses could bring peace in our time, but that doesn’t mean that this year’s eclipse—taking place Monday, August 21—won’t be a significant astronomical event and that we should not take notice.
First the details:
Here on the East End we will not see a total solar eclipse—that is reserved for a narrow band across the contiguous United States from Oregon to the Carolinas. What we will see is a partial eclipse with about 70% of the sun being covered. The festivities begin at 1:23 p.m., reach the climax at 2:44 p.m. and end at about 4 p.m.
What you’ll need:
ISO certified glasses. NOT sunglasses. Welding glasses would do the trick, but, we cannot stress enough, NOT sunglasses. For the sake of safety, you should NEVER, EVER stare at the sun, even with the eclipse glasses on. Scientists recommend you observe for a few seconds and then look away to give your eyes a rest. If you purchased special eclipse glasses from Amazon, check your email—the company recently announced a recall of almost all eclipse glasses they’ve sold recently.
So where can you watch this once-in-a-lifetime event on the East End? If you don’t have your own glasses and/or want to experience this natural wonder among your fellow human beings, there will be several local gatherings.
The Coast Kitchen at The Montauk Yacht Club (montaukyachtclub.com) is hosting a Solar Eclipse Cocktail Party where they’re offering the Solar Eclipse Cocktail, made with vodka lemonade and topped with a Chambord float (see below). It will be available for $13.
At the Parrish Art Museum (parrishart.org), Montauk Observatory astronomers will operate a telescope enabling visitors to view the sun. Bring a blanket or lawn chair for the outdoor viewing. Solar-viewing glasses will be available for free while supplies last. In addition, the Parrish will stream the total eclipse live from NASA in the Lichtenstein Theater.
A member of the Montauk Observatory will also be at the South Fork Natural History Museum (sofo.org) in Bridgehampton, where they will also be giving out free solar viewing glasses while supplies last.
John Jermain Memorial Library (johnjermain.org) in Sag Harbor will be watching from the garden outside.
The Custer Observatory (custerobservatory.org) in Southold will also be hosting a viewing party between 1 and 4 p.m.
For all you astronomy fans out there, this won’t be the only celestial occurrence to marvel at this year—or this month. The Perseid meteor shower, though it has already peaked, will continue until August 24. On November 13, Venus and Jupiter will appear to be very close—only 0.3 degrees apart—low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.
Want more meteor showers? The Orionids shower peaks on the night of October 21; the Leonids shower on November 17; and the Geminids meteor shower on December 13.
Now let’s just hope for clear skies…