April 8 will be a pretty cool day across the U.S.: for the first time since August 21, 2017, the moon’s shadow will completely cover the sun for a total solar eclipse. When this happens, it looks like the sun has disappeared, but in reality you’ll get to see a ring of the sun (the corona) circling the moon.

The approximate time the New York area will see the eclipse is 3:35 pm, give or take a half hour. New Jersey will see about 85% of the eclipse, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth going outside to check out this cool phenomenon.

It’s super important to note that looking directly at the sun on any given day can damage your eyes. Sunglasses won’t help during a solar eclipse, especially if you plan to stare at the sky. Look for approved solar filters (make sure they are NASA-approved) if you plan on watching this take place.

Dr. Premilla Banwait, vice president of Clinical Programs for UnitedHealthcare, warned of serious eye damage such as blurry vision that can last months, or even permanent problems such as “eclipse blindness.” She said if you use a camera, telescope or binoculars – even if you’re wearing approved glasses – you shouldn’t look directly at the sun. She advises scheduling an eye exam if you experience any eye discomfort or vision problems following the solar eclipse.

You should also exercise caution while driving. The experts at AAA ask drivers to keep their headlights on and use their sun visor to block the light. Do not wear solar eclipse glasses while driving. And do not attempt to take photos of the sky while driving.

Plus, animals can be affected by the eclipse as well, so keep your pets inside during the peak time for their safety, too.

Here’s where to learn about the eclipse before it happens:

On select dates from March 22 to May 11, get tickets to “Totality: The Great American Solar Eclipse 2024” at the Longo Planetarium at Morris County College in Randolph. This 45-minute show teaches you about the science behind eclipses, how to view them, and what an eclipse looks like. It is recommended for adults and kids ages 8 and up. Bonus: you can buy solar eclipse-appropriate glasses for $2.50.

The Total Eclipse Lecture at the Hazlet branch of the Monmouth County Library system features Joseph Cascella, who will discuss both lunar and solar eclipses, why they don’t happen very often, and where to watch in the Hazlet area.

Visit The New Jersey State Museum in Trenton on March 30 for a planetarium show where you will find out why eclipses happen, why they don’t happen every single month, and why they’re interesting to astronomers. You’ll get a free pair of special glasses that you can wear on April 8.

Solar Science: Eclipse Over America on April 4 brings the PBS documentary “Eclipse Over America” to The Ocean County Library’s Lacey branch. Learn the history of solar eclipses and the cutting edge research scientists are discovering about the solar corona.

Kids ages 12-18 can make their own solar eclipse necklace on April 5 at the Lakewood library.

On April 6, the Barnegat branch of the Ocean County Library will offer a solar eclipse craft meant to help children 4 and older visualize the cosmic event. You can also watch a screening of the PBS documentary “Eclipse Over America.”

In an interesting spin on the topic, Shady Subject at the Stafford branch of the Ocean County Library will touch upon flowering plants that live without much sunlight in the morning of April 8. You’ll get protective glasses you can wear later that day.

You may be able to see the eclipse from your local Applebee’s parking lot on April 8, then step inside for The Perfect Eclipse Margarita: Patrón Premium Silver Blanco Tequila and Citrónge Orange Liqueur is mixed with a dash of Monin Blue Raspberry, passionfruit and lemon and lime. The cocktail will be available at Flynn Group Applebee’s locations through April 14.

Here’s where to view the eclipse on April 8:

New Jersey’s largest astronomy party takes place at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City with The Great Eclipse. At 1 pm special solar-themed activities, adventures and a webcast begin prior to the moon’s move around 3 pm.

The Robert J. Novins Planetarium on the Ocean County College campus will hold a Partial Solar Eclipse Event beginning at 2 pm. You should be able to see 90% of the eclipse over Toms River. There will be music, food and science activities for the whole family.

United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey will present the Total Solar Eclipse Event on site at the UACNJ Observatory at Jenny Jump, or you can view it online. Glasses will be provided.

The Solar Eclipse Viewing Event is part of the Morris Museum’s Astronomical Society’s events. View the sun with your eyes (protected by special glasses) or through a telescope. Or, stay inside the museum’s theater and watch a livestream.

The Gateway National Recreation Area will hold the Sandy Hook Partial Solar Eclipse Watch Party. Members of National Park Service Park Rangers, the Sandy Hook Foundation, and S.T.A.R. Astronomy will provide eclipse safety glasses and Junior Ranger Eclipse Explorer books and badges. Bring a beach chair.

The New Jersey Botanical Garden in Ringwood will gather groups in the courtyard of the Carriage House to watch the Moon cross the Sun. Solar safety filters will be available in the gift shop. If it’s rainy or cloudy, the program will be canceled.

The Land Conservancy of New Jersey’s Solar Eclipse Party takes place at South Branch Preserve in Budd Lake. You’ll get free viewing glasses and snacks.

Rowan University has its Edelman Planetarium, where the Centennial Solar Eclipse Viewing Party will include telescopes, music and photo stations.

The Intrepid in NYC is holding a special Solar Eclipse Viewing Event starting at 2 pm from the flight deck of its legendary aircraft carrier. It’s free with museum admission, and you’ll get a pair of safety goggles to wear.

Visit the Arthur Ross Terrace and the Cullman Hall of the Universe at the American Museum of Natural History in New York to learn more about the eclipse from experts and receive a pair of glasses to safely view the phenomenon.

One World Observatory’s exclusive Solar Eclipse package is available in Downtown Manhattan. You’ll get entry to the observatory, a pair of solar eclipse viewing glasses, one free drink with a commemorative pint glass, a souvenir photo and 10% off at the retail shop.

Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center will host a solar eclipse viewing party where can take in 360-degree views of New York City to the soundtrack of celestial themed music. You’ll get ISO-certified solar eclipse glasses from Warby Parker, along with an eclipse themed black and white cookie from The Weather Room.

A special Eclipse Extravaganza takes place in Greeley Square Plaza on 34th Street in NYC including a performance from the brass party band Shag Horns, along with themed crafts and black and white cookies from Ess-a-Bagel.

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