Get Ready For the Eclipse

Viewing events at CMEE and Parrish
Terry Kemper waited for a solar eclipse in Libya in 2006.

People chase many things. A dog when it runs out of the house, the latest fashion trend, money, maybe even dreams. But few can say they chase what Terry Kemper does.

Mr. Kemper, a retired television executive and member of the East Hampton Fire Department, chases solar eclipses, and on Monday he will chase his 17th.

The solar eclipse is set to begin on the East Coast around 1:23 p.m., reach maximum sun coverage around 2:44, and end at 4. Here on Long Island, sky viewers will see only a partial (about 70 percent) solar eclipse, during which the moon will cover part of the sun’s disk, but anyone from South Carolina to Oregon will be in the path of totality, when the moon completely covers the sun.

While 17 eclipses might seem redundant, Mr. Kemper is just as excited for this one as he was for any other. In fact, after he saw his first one as a young boy in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he said, he was completely hooked.

This total solar eclipse is also special because it is the first one since 1778 to be seen only in the United States. Parts of South America, Africa, and Europe will see only a partial solar eclipse.

“Because it’s in the U.S., not in China, Australia, or Uganda,” where solar eclipses are more common, Mr. Kemper explained over the phone, this one “will be viewed by more people than probably have ever seen an eclipse before.”

To safely view or photograph the eclipse of the sun, people should use a filtering device; Mr. Kemper suggests purchasing No. 14 welder’s glass. While people in New York will have to wear or use the glass the entire time, those who are watching the eclipse where there will be totality can remove the glass during that approximately two-minute window.

Totality is what Mr. Kemper chases, which is why he will be traveling to Redmond, Ore., to watch the celestial event.

“There is something really mystical about it, the power of the universe,” he said. “It happens only this way on this planet, because, oddly, the sun is 400 times larger than the moon, but it’s 400 times farther away, so the two are exactly the same size in that moment.”

For those not luckily enough to travel elsewhere for the eclipse, there will be plenty of observation events on the East End. The South Fork Natural History Museum in Bridgehampton will hold one from 1 to 4 p.m. SoFo will distribute eclipse shades, and Montauk Observatory astronomers will be on hand to help operate the solar telescopes.

If the weather does not hold out, the museum will have the eclipse streamed live by NASA and displayed on a big screen in SoFo’s barn. During the totality, viewers will be able to see Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, and Mars.

Admission is free for those attending the eclipse event at SoFo, but attendees who want to enter the museum will pay $10 for adults, $7.50 for kids ages 3 to 12. Admission is free for children under 3 and museum members.

Similar events will take place at the East Hampton Library from 1:20 to 3:50 p.m., at the John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor at 1:15, and at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill starting at 1. Eclipse glasses will be distributed at each of them, though supplies are limited.

Tickets for the Parrish lawn event are $12, free for members and students. Reservations in advance have been strongly encouraged, and blankets or lawn chairs for outdoor viewing have been suggested. The Parrish, too, will have Montauk Observatory astronomers helping with telescopes, and there will be a live streaming of the total eclipse in the Lichtenstein Theater.

A sighting like this won’t happen again until 2024.

Complete totality as seen in Uganda in 2013 Chris Triessl