It was 12 noon and the lines were around the block into the parking lot as more than one thousand New Yorkers joined by residents from Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut and Westchester to experience a natural phenomena that is very rare, an almost total eclipse of the sun.
According to the experts what we saw at the NY Hall of Science, located in Corona-Flushing Meadow Park in Queens, was an eclipse where the moon passed in front of the sun, blocking out about 71% of the light source from the sun.
More than half the eclipse sky gazers were from the borough of Queens. Many came with family and friends to be part of the experience.
Mayor DeBlasio issued a warning as did the New York City Department of Health alerting New Yorkers about looking directly into the eclipse of the sun without wearing special glasses that were made to block some of the suns dangerous eye damaging ultra-violet rays.
It was very clear to those who gathered at the New York Hall of Science that they were in a perfect spot to view the eclipse. The Hall of Science, not ready for more than two hundred visitors were very surprised that so many visitors came to the eclipse party there.
More than a thousand visitors showed up for the special event causing the Hall of Science to run out of special glasses early and asked that everyone who received a pair of free eclipse glasses to share them with others who were there.
We spoke with Dan Wenpa, Vice President for External Affairs at the NY Hall of Science, who told the Gazette, “Today is a special day. It is the kind of special day that doesn’t happen all the time. It is a day with a turnout that even overwhelmed us. These kind of moments are bigger than all of us.”
We met Tatiana Walker and her beautiful 2-yr old daughter overwhelms Hamilton from Corona, who thought the experience, was awesome. Mom said< “We are here for two reasons, We’re here to check out the pre-school openings and see the solar eclipse.” Joyce Vetere, senior correspondent to the Jewish Voice NY, a former elementary school teacher and now a university staff member a LIU Post in the education department was thrilled to have an opportunity to speak with young children about the experience they were about to have. Joyce spoke with students about the eclipse including. A six year old from Jackson Heights told Joyce,” The moon is next to the sun and blocks out the sun.” That’s great stuff coming from a 6 year old about to begin first grade in September,
Sheila Dear, a science lab facilitator and teacher at Yeshiva Dalehei Torah, Rockaway, brought her two children, Moshe (13) and Riva(8) to see the eclipse. Moshe knew that the last eclipse took place 38 years ago in the United States.
Bayside resident, Ellyn Penze who attended IS 25 as a child, came alone but many different people at the event.
Anna Barios from Flushing brought her son Raul (11) to see his first eclipse.
Danielle Peritz came with her mother Suzanne, a stay at home mom who was just elected president of the Rocky Hill Civic Association in Bellerose, Queens.
The Egas family from Bayside were representing PS 31(Bayside, Queen) at Monday’s eclipse party. Marco (36) brought his two children Lyla(6), entering first grade and and Lucas(4) entering pre-k at PS 38 in Bayside. They were seen holding up the pin camera they made with the assistance of instructions handed out by Hall of Science staff members, who were on hand to assist wherever they were needed. Another Bayside family led by Patrick Brooney and his children Catherine (4) and Patrick(3) were seen borrowing glasses from those who got them, so they can see the eclipse.
Sarah Esse brought her two Yeshiva Har Torah students, Ede (12) and his sister Sivan(9) to join in the celebration and learn something about science.
The last family we spoke with was from Sunnyside Queens. Susan Bing brought her daughter Magnolia Bing-Edwards(8) who attends a private school, the Alt School in the East Village was so excited about the who experience. The Gazette learned that eight year old Magnolia is an avid reader, as is her mother> While mom jumps for joy over the services of the Queens library system her young daughter has gained the excitement and fervor for reading. Her favorite author is none other than J.K. Rowling. Young Magnolia loves to go out and play with her friends in Sunnyside, but also loves to curl up with a Harry Potter book, written by Rowling.
Corona was a community that produced many of the Hall of Science Eclipse Party guests. Elvira Giret brought her two children Briana Gonzalez and Susan Giret. They all had a ball trying to look at the eclipse with their homemade pinhole cameras.
Sarah Valenzuela, a 23 year old freelance journalist, from Corona summed it all up when she told the Gazette, “this was a wonderful thing for the Hall of Science to do.” It brought family’s young and old alike together to have a common experience that most will remember for the rest of their lives.
Sarah is a graduate of Syracuse University where she majored in journalism. She is a Queens girl all the way attending elementary school PS191Q, MS 172 Queens and Queens High School of Teaching. She recently moved to Queens Village and is currently testing the waters for a media outlet to offer her services.
The Hall of Science is one of the hidden treasures of the Borough of Queens and should be visited by everyone with children who as adults are children at heart.
By: Joyce Vetere Milowski and Dr. Dan Miller