Sunny Strowbridge of Red Bank and her dog, Stinky, showed off eclipse-watching glasses on Riverside Avenue last week. 

Eclipse? Eclipse-watching glasses? What’s going on here?

Read on…

The special spex are needed for safe viewing of an historic total eclipse of the sun on Monday, August 21 that (weather permitting) will cast a swath of the United States in darkness but will also be visible as a partial eclipse in regions — including the Northeast — that are outside the 70-mile-wide path of totality shown above.

Locally, the partial eclipse begins at 1:22 p.m. and ends at 4:01 p.m., with maximum coverage of the sun at 2:45 p.m. Here’s a video illustration of what to expect, if the weather cooperates.

It’s the first coast-to-coast eclipse in America since 1918. And while the rare alignment of the Sun, Moon and Earth likely won’t incite the existential dread it might have among ancient viewers, it does call for precautions. The National Weather Service has information on safe viewing that includes this:

The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the Sun. To date four manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

The American Astronomical Society, which has extensive information about the eclipse on its website, has some tips here about ensuring spex you buy aren’t bogus. More information is available here.

As part of a program that has distributed some 2.1 million pairs of safety glasses to libraries across America, the Monmouth County Library’s Eastern Branch in Shrewsbury has several hundred pairs available at no cost for the general public, chief librarian Kim Avagliano tells redbankgreen. (The spex modeled by Sunny and Stinky above were provided by the library.)

“People only need to come in and ask for them either in the children’s department or adult reference desk,” she said. “We only give them out to individuals and families; no large groups or organizations.”

In addition, the library is hosting a number of eclipse-related programs. For starters, there’s one called “Shadows in the Sun: Solar Eclipse Fun” for ages 3 and up this Saturday at 11 a.m. And on =the day of the eclipse, the library will set aside a portion of its parking lot for eclipse-watching, with related story and craft displays and viewing glasses available as long as the supply lasts. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.

The Red Bank Public Library also has the viewing spex.

redbankgreen will update this post with additional info about eclipse-watching events as we receive it. (Photo by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)