8/21/2017 Partial Solar Eclipse: Your NYC Bike Guide

On Monday 8/21/2017, the United States will experience its first coast to coast Total Solar Eclipse since 6/8/1918, when scientists tried to prove Albert Einstein‘s General theory of relativity, but were frustrated by clouds.

Moving West to East from Oregon, to South Carolina, parts of 14 states will experience totality for up to two minutes and forty seconds, in a narrow seventy mile path (the partial phase lasts over 2.5 hours and will be visible in all the other United States, Canada, and Mexico).

Some municipalities across the United States are expecting ‘carmageddon’, as millions of people rush to get into the path of totality, and expect shortages in food, public toilets, housing, gasoline, cellphone power, needing extra police, and maybe even the National Guard to keep order!


Image Credit:

In NYC, where those conditions are not unheard of, we will be gifted with only a 77 percent magnitude partial solar eclipse (see animation here) starting at 1:23 pm, with a maximum at 2:44 pm, and ending at 4:00 pm according to predictions, which makes for ideal viewing by daytime bicycle professionals on break, such as bike messengers, and delivery people.

Video Credit: NASA

To view the partial solar eclipse, assuming normal viewing conditions, protective solar filtered glasses are required (unless you don’t mind the risk of going permanently blind), and fortunately a program through our national library system is giving away millions of solar filtered glasses certified safe for free, so you can avoid the eclipse profiteers and forgers.

One of the closest libraries for free glasses in NYC is the Clinton Hill Library in Brooklyn (380 Washington Avenue), but you can check this map here for other locations. The Clinton Hill Library is also hosting a free Solar Eclipse Viewing Party on the day of the event.

If you do not get solar filtered glasses ahead of time, and want to look at the eclipse through more powerful scientific instruments, in public transportation starved, but easy to bike to Red Hook, at Pioneer Works the AAA is hosting an event, and other local events will be listed on the AAA website as they are announced by member volunteers.

Two other places to bike to are the Intrepid Museum, and the Museum of National History which is hosting a special event with a live broadcast of the total solar eclipse during the day at no extra cost.

If none of that works for you, you can also try to see the partial solar eclipse by poking a tiny hole in a sheet of paper, and project the image of the sun on the ground (DIY card projector), or try and do the same thing through a cheese grater, or looking for the pattern of the sun through tree leave’s shadows.

Meanwhile, our friend, Gary Parkerson, The Pedaling Astronomer got a feature article in the USA Today/Tennessean through our contacts, which might lead to national TV coverage of his project in Nashville where he is set to view the total solar eclipse with other cyclists. We at BikeBlogNYC wish him the best!

The Pedaling Astronomer

The Pedaling Astronomer

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