SO­LAR ECLIPSE

Kathy Reeves from the Har­vard-Smith­so­nian Cen­ter for Astro­physics talks about the up­com­ing so­lar eclipse.

Metro USA (New York) - - Front Page - KRISTIN TOUSSAINT @kristin­dakota [email protected]

Be­fore the eclipse be­gins to­day, Metro has un­cov­ered the best ways to en­sure that you don’t miss any of the ce­les­tial won­der.

Are you ex­cited about to­day’s so­lar eclipse? Though not quite a once-in-a-life­time event, the phe­nom­e­non is spe­cial. Kathy Reeves, an as­tronomer at the Har­vard-Smith­so­nian Cen­ter for Astro­physics who is in­volved with the op­er­a­tion of NASA tele­scopes, took some time to talk to Metro about the event be­fore she headed to Ore­gon to get a bet­ter view of the to­tal eclipse.

What makes this eclipse so spe­cial?

This is the first el­lipse to cross the U.S. since 1918. There have been eclipses in the U.S. since then, but this is the first one that goes coast to coast since 1918, and that’s pretty cool. It means a lot of peo­ple are go­ing to be able to see the to­tal­ity, the part where the moon com­pletely cov­ers the sun.

How is this dif­fer­ent from other eclipses?

To­tal eclipses hap­pen ev­ery cou­ple of years or so, but the lo­ca­tion is re­ally the in­ter­est­ing part of this eclipse. The last eclipse that hap­pened in the con­ti­nen­tal U.S. hap­pened in 1979 (there was one in Hawaii in 1991). It only went over Ore­gon and Wash­ing­ton in the north­ern part of the Pa­cific North­west. It was sim­i­lar, but it cov­ered a smaller part of the U.S., so fewer peo­ple would have had ac­cess to that.

Where are the best lo­ca­tions to view the eclipse?

This one goes from Ore­gon to South Carolina, for what we call the “pas­sive to­tal­ity,” where you’ll get to­tal dark­ness. Nashville, Ten­nessee is in its path, St. Louis is al­most in the path, Port­land, Ore­gon is al­most in path, Kansas City — there are sev­eral big cities in or re­ally close to the path of the to­tal eclipse. The other cool thing about this eclipse is that every­body in the con­ti­nen­tal U.S. will be able to see at least a par­tial eclipse.

What do you ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing a to­tal eclipse?

It gets dark and it’s not quite the same as when it gets dark at night. There’s still lit­tle bit of light com­ing from the sun, the outer layer called the corona. The light has this very strange twi­light kind of qual­ity, and it does get a lit­tle cooler [in tem­per­a­ture]. Depend­ing on where you are, there might be changes with the birds. We were in Aus­tralia for the last one and we no­ticed the birds stopped chirp­ing.

Can you take pic­tures of the eclipse?

Yes, ab­so­lutely. For the par­tial eclipse, you need a fil­ter so you aren’t point­ing your cam­era di­rectly at the sun, be­cause it’s still very very bright and you can’t look at it di­rectly. Dur­ing the to­tal eclipse, you can to­tally take pic­tures of the corona. There’s a project out of Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Berke­ley where they’re try­ing to gather every­body’s pho­tos from this eclipse to put them all to­gether into a movie. It’s called the Eclipse Meg­amovie Project.

Do sci­en­tists do any ex­per­i­ments dur­ing an eclipse?

There are ac­tu­ally lot of dif­fer­ent ex­per­i­ments go­ing on with the eclipse. Our group is work­ing on a tele­scope that’s go­ing to fly on an air­plane dur­ing the eclipse, along the eclipse path. It’s go­ing to get up to 50,000 feet above the at­mos­phere and look at sun and the in­frared [light]. That’s af­fected a lot by the mag­netic field of the sun, which is sci­en­tif­i­cally im­por­tant. A prob­lem with the part of the in­frared spec­trum we’re look­ing at is a lot of it gets ab­sorbed by the at­mos­phere, it doesn’t make its way to the ground. That’s why we’re putting a tele­scope on an air­plane, so we see more of the sun and less of the at­mos­phere.

Why is it worth it to see an eclipse?

It’s just a beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral event. Pic­tures don’t do it jus­tice. Hav­ing the whole ex­pe­ri­ence is re­ally ex­cit­ing — see­ing it and feel­ing it and hear­ing it and be­ing in a group of peo­ple all ex­cited about it as it’s hap­pen­ing is re­ally cool. As soon as you see a to­tal eclipse, you think to your­self, "Wow, I gotta do that again."

To­day will be dif­fer­ent from the stan­dard medi­ocre slog that starts ev­ery work­ing week: An ex­tremely ma­jor astro­nom­i­cal phe­nom­e­non is hap­pen­ing for the first time in 38 years! The Great Amer­i­can So­lar Eclipse, in which the moon passes be­tween the Earth and the sun, black­ing out the skies, will oc­cur to­day from 1:23 p.m. un­til 4 p.m., with a two-minute peak of to­tal dark­ness at 2:44 p.m. — although in NYC we’re only ex­pected to glimpse 70 per­cent “to­tal­ity,” so, it’ll be more of a brown­ing out, if you will. Speak­ing of, if you’re free dur­ing the day and would like to pair this rare cos­mo­log­i­cal event with booze (or you’re just look­ing for some other op­tions be­sides watch­ing NASA’s live stream on your work com­puter), here are a hand­ful of eclipse-watch par­ties at bars, rooftops and mu­se­ums across the city. So­lar-view­ing glasses are pro­vided at each so you don’t harm your eyes.

Lo­vage

This Mid­town rooftop bar will host a watch party Mon­day from noon to 5 p.m. Come for the panoramic views of the Em­pire State Build­ing and the Hud­son River; stay for the So­lar Eclipse of My Heart cock­tail. $12, lo­vagenyc.com

1 Ho­tel Brook­lyn Bridge

Catch the eclipse pool­side at Dumbo’s hottest new eco-lux­ury ho­tel while sip­ping a Frozen Eclipse (gin, ap­erol, pas­sion­fruit) and nosh­ing on lob­ster rolls. Even if you don’t get much ac­tion as­tron­o­my­wise, the East River views are enough of a sell on their own. 11 a.m. til, $35, 1ho­tels.com/Brook­lyn-Bridge.

Ho­tel Amer­i­cano

En­try is free at this eclipse party on the rooftop of a swanky Chelsea ho­tel, or it will cost you $40 to re­serve a pool­side lounge bed. En­joy a spe­cial cock­tail for the oc­ca­sion: the So­lar Eclipse Black Mar­tini, with Grey Goose ($14). Just don’t “eclipse” out! Noon-3 p.m., ho­tel-amer­i­cano.com.

Bun­ga­low Bar

Make a trip out of it and head to the Rock­aways to do your eclipse-gaz­ing ocean­side at this water­front tav­ern. From noon to 4 p.m., en­joy tunes by DJ Teddy, a To­tal So­lar Eclipse Cock­tail, and of course, all the seafood you de­sire. Post-eclipse, go for a late-af­ter­noon dip. Free, in­good­com­pany.com/ bun­ga­low.

Brook­lyn Grange

The astronomy hang at NYC’s pre­em­i­nent rooftop farm is called “Com­mune with the Moon” — rea­son enough to at­tend. The event opens with a farm tour from 1:30 to 2:30, fol­lowed by the main event of eclipse view­ing, yoga from 3 to 5 p.m. (BYO yoga mat) and drinks. $75, brook­lyn­grange­farm.com.

Amer­i­can Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory

If you want to be around folks who ac­tu­ally know what they’re talk­ing about when it comes to the cos­mos, head to the Hayden Plan­e­tar­ium. The event goes from noon to 4 p.m. and in­cludes a 12:30 p.m. talk and Q&A with the mu­seum’s astro­physics ed­u­ca­tor Brian Levine. Eclipse view­ing be­gins at 1:30 at the Rose Cen­ter for Earth Space. Free with mu­seum ad­mis­sion, amnh.org.

A so­lar eclipse will hit on Mon­day.

“Com­mune with the moon” on the roof at Brook­lyn Grange. FACE­BOOK.COM/ BROOKLYNGRANGE/

Peep the eclipse, while pool­side at Ho­tel Amer­i­cano. IN­STA­GRAM/@HOTELAMERICANO

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