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Hundreds visited the Cradle of Aviation Museum to mark the solar eclipse on Monday, April 8, 2024. (Credit: Joe Morreale)

Cradle Of Aviation Shines On Eclipse Day

Cradle of Aviation Museum held a unique educational event celebrating the solar eclipse on Monday, April 8. The museum staff used the rare natural phenomenon as an opportunity for learning throughout the day and the entire duration of the solar event.

This year’s solar eclipse was the first visible from the United States since Aug. 21, 2017. Cradle of Aviation held a similar event in 2017 and prepared for this year’s event as soon as that one wrapped, according to President Andrew Parton.

“Since the last eclipse in 2017, we saw the reaction that people had to the eclipse, and everybody coming together. And we said, ‘alright we have to be prepared in seven years,’ so we made sure that as soon as we could get glasses, we acquired them,” said Parton.

The museum purchased over three thousand pairs of eclipse glasses, which protect the human eye from over-exposure to the Sun during an eclipse. The glasses were sold all week in preparation for the event, and on Monday, visitors were given glasses with the purchase of a museum ticket.

“Seven years ago, there was this great shortage because nobody anticipated the demand for it. So, we made sure that we could get as many as we could,” said Parton.

“About 90 percent of the Sun gets covered in this one, but 10 percent of the Sun is still a lot of sun, so you have to be careful,” said theater manager, Kerry Kiker.

“We don’t have the nerve receptors in our eyes that actually detect that a burn is happening, so people keep staring and eventually start to notice that your retina becomes damaged,” said Ines Jijon, Director of Education.

For children, there were learning experiences through crafts and projects. The staff taught them how to create eclipse fortune tellers inside the museum, as well as chalk outside on the sidewalks for the young ones to draw their version of the eclipse.

The viewing party included an exhibit that demonstrated the damage Sun exposure can do to the human eye, using a magnifying glass.

The Cradle of Aviation also provided materials for functioning pinhole projectors to view the eclipse safely, and instructed visitors how to create them.

“They get to put it on a piece of paper or on the ground, and project it onto anything,” said Jijon. “That way, they get to safely observe it without looking at the Sun, and see the shadow being cast of the moon passing the Sun.”

For the adult visitors who came out to see the unique natural phenomenon, the museum held eclipse mythology lectures and a lecture on the science of eclipses.

A crowd of nearly a thousand people showed up for this eclipse. The next solar eclipse in New York is not until 2044, but we will not be able to view a total eclipse on Long Island until 2079, according to the Cradle of Aviation staff.

“In 2044, we’ll be in a partial coverage area, so we’re only about 40 percent covered then. 2079 is when we’ll be in a path of totality,” said Kiker.

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