23 great spots to watch the solar eclipse in N.J.: A statewide guide

By Spencer Kent | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

A century in the making

On the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 21, people across the U.S. will have the chance to see the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in nearly 100 years.

At about 1:22 p.m. in New Jersey, the sky will darken, the air will cool, stars will be revealed, and streams of light will be visible as the Great American Solar Eclipse reaches its maximum phase of darkness.

New Jersey will experience about 75 percent coverage for most areas, and planetariums and countless libraries throughout the state are offering viewing parties, many of which will be handing out free solar viewing glasses.

The following are some of best places holding viewing parties for the eclipse on Aug. 21.

1. Liberty Science Center

The Liberty Science Center should be an awesome place to witness the eclipse. The center will be hosting an all-day event with some pretty cool features, including a Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon laser show.

“We are pulling out all the stops,” said Paul Hoffman, president of CEO of Liberty Science Center.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. The center will have telescopes, sun spotters and staff interpreting what’s happening. There will be food and all sorts of astronomy games. The laser show will begin at 4:45 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children.

The planetarium will also have live feeds of the total eclipse displayed on huge television screens.

2. The Dreyfuss Planetarium at the Newark Museum

The Dreyfuss Planetarium at the Newark Museum is closed on Mondays, but they’re hosting a small event from 1 to 4 p.m. for the eclipse in the Horizon Plaza next to the museum.

The museum is also offering a show called “Eclipse: The Sun Revealed,” explaining the history, science and impact of eclipses. It runs from Wednesday through Saturday, at 3 p.m., through Aug. 18. For more information, call 973-596-6529, or send an email to planetarium@newarkmuseum.org.

3. Raritan Valley Community College Planetarium

Raritan Valley Community College will have telescopes set up for the public from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 21.

The RVCC Planetarium will also have a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon laser concert on Friday, Aug. 18 at 9 p.m., featuring songs like “Speak to Me/Breathe,” “Time” and “Money.”

The planetarium viewing of the solar eclipse is free to the public

4. Cranford Public Library

The Cranford Public Library will host a special eclipse viewing party at Sherman Park from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Protective eyewear will be provided.

Those wishing to attend are encouraged to bring their own blankets and chairs to enjoy in comfort.

Experts will give a special introduction about the science behind the eclipse at 11 a.m.

5. Edelman Planetarium at Rowan University

Rowan University’s Edelman Planetarium will be hosting a free planetarium show about eclipses every half hour from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

There will be activities and solar telescopes available on the grounds of the science hall.

The planetarium will also be offering feeds from NASA showing the total eclipse. The first 1,000 visitors will be provided goodie bags filled with an array of items, including temporary solar eclipse tattoos, stickers and solar eclipse glasses.

6. Viewing Party on Palmer Square in Princeton

The Princeton Library and Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University are co-sponsoring the Viewing Party on Palmer Square, which will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Protective eyewear and snacks will be provided, just bring a lawn chair or a blanket.

7. Morris Museum

The Morris Museum will be hosting a free eclipse viewing party on Aug. 21, broadcasting NASA’s livestream of the total eclipse. Those wishing to attend should get there no later than 1 p.m.

For more information, call 973-971-3706.

8. United Astronomy Clubs of N.J. – Warren County

The United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey is hosting a viewing event for the eclipse at Jenny Jump State Forest in the Great Meadows section of Independence Township from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. They will be assisting those interested in solar photography. For more information, visit the group’s website.

9. Denville Public Library

The Denville Public Library is inviting children in kindergarten through sixth grade to view the eclipse at 2 p.m. on Aug. 21. There will also be space-related crafts in the meeting room, and if the weather is cloudy, there will be crafts and a television to watch the total solar eclipse from another part of the world. To register, visit denvillelibrary.org.

10. Woodbury Public Library

The Woodbury Public Library is hosting a free solar eclipse viewing party at 2 p.m. on Aug. 21. Solar eclipse glasses will be available for free. Fun crafts will be offered prior to the viewing.
11. Washington Crossing State Park – AAUP

The Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton is hosting an event at Washington Crossing State Park in Hopewell Township from 1:20 to 4 p.m. at its observatory. The group plans to offer telescopes with filters for viewing. For directions and parking information, visit the group’s website.

12. Waterford Township Public Library

The Waterford Township Public Library will be hosting a viewing party on Aug. 21. It will be handing out free viewing glasses while supplies last.

13. Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook

Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook will be hosting a viewing party at History House No. 1 at the Fort Hancock Historic Post from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 21. Rangers and astronomers will be at the event to share with attendees how to safely enjoy the solar eclipse. The event is free to all.

14. Scotch Plains Public Library

The Scotch Plains Public Library will be hosting a viewing party at 11 a.m. on Aug. 21. There will be “crafts and activities, themed treats, and participants will get to create their own pinhole camera.” The library will also be offering free eclipse glasses while supplies last. Attendees must have an adult over the 18 years old and must sign a waiver to receive a pair of glasses or to create the pinhole camera. Eclipse glasses, crafts, and treats are all available on a first come, first served basis. Visit our website scotlib.org or call 908-322-5007 ext. 204 for more information.

15. Mendham Public Library

The Mendham Public Library will host a viewing party outside using a telescope. Those interested in attending the event must register by calling 973-543-4018 or emailing the library at programs@mendhamtwplib.org.
16. N.J. Astronomical Association – Voorhees State Park

The New Jersey Astronomical Association will be hosting an event from 1 to 4:30 p.m at its observatory located on Observatory Road in Voorhees State Park in High Bridge. Telescopes and eclipse glasses will be available. For more information visit: www.njaa.org

17. Oakland Public Library

The Oakland Public Library will be holding a viewing party beginning at 2 p.m. on Aug. 21. The first 100 Oakland residents to arrive will receive a free pair of NASA certified viewing glasses. Registration is required only for those seeking to receive a children’s pinhole viewer craft, which children can learn to make at the event. Register in person at the library, by phone by calling 201-337-3742 or online here.

18. Somerset County Library System of New Jersey

SCLSNJ’s library branches will distribute free eclipse-viewing glasses starting at 1 p.m. on Aug. 21. The following are SCLSNJ’s libraries that will be connecting to NASA TV to live stream the eclipse as it makes its way from Oregon to South Carolina: Bridgewater, Hillsborough, Manville, North Plainfield and Warren.

19. Rockaway Township Library

The Rockaway Public Library will be hosting a viewing party from noon to 5 p.m. Aug. 21 and will be handing out free viewing glasses to township residents only. Glasses will be handed out on a first -come first-serve basis.

20. Kenilworth Public Library

The Kenilworth Public Library will be hosting a viewing party from 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. on Aug. 21. There will be a program in the library’s parking lot to teach children ages 5 and up as well as adults about the solar eclipse. Free solar eclipse glasses will be handed out at this event. Registration is required. You can begin registering for the event on Monday, Aug. 14. To register, call the library at 908-276-2451 or visit the library at 548 Blvd., Kenilworth.

21. Keyport Public Library

The Keyport Public Library will be hosting a viewing party beginning at 10:45 a.m. on Aug. 21

Children will be able to listen to stories explaining the eclipse, and viewing glasses will be available to attendees, free of charge, while supplies last.

22. Library of the Chathams

The Library of the Chathams will be hosting a viewing party beginning at noon and ending at 4 p.m., livestreaming NASA TV’s broadcast of the eclipse. The main show begins at 1 p.m.

23. Trailside Nature & Science Center in Mountainside

Amateur Astronomers Inc. will host an event from noon to 3 p.m. at Trailside Nature & Science Center in Mountainside to view the sun safely and see the partial eclipse.

And let’s not forget about The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Franklin Institute’s eclipse event runs from noon to 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21 in the Fels Planetarium. The Institute has posted lots of great information about viewing the eclipse online. Or the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. The American Museum of Natural History is hosting a special event starting at noon on Monday, Aug. 21 at its Hayden Planetarium.

What if I want to watch on my own?

That’s perfectly fine too, however you’ll need special eyewear. Repeat, do not look at the eclipse without the special gear.

If you haven’t ordered them online yet, retailers like Best Buy, Lowes and Walmart will be selling protective eyewear leading up to the event.

What if it’s cloudy? (Or you can’t get outside)

AccuWeather’s early forecast for the big eclipse looks fair for New Jersey. Still, there’s going to be plenty of live streams of the eclipse available online if you can’t get outside or the weather takes a turn. Here’s a list of some good options:

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