Eclipse coming to Suffolk

Published 10:02 pm Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The solar eclipse happening this Monday will hearken back to an interesting and little-known part of Suffolk’s history and provide ample entertainment but also demands a careful eye toward preparation.

The 2017 solar eclipse is set to begin in Suffolk at approximately 1:20 p.m. and last until approximately 4:06 p.m., according to the Total Solar Eclipse Interactive Map resource at Maximum eclipse will be reached in Suffolk at approximately 2:46 p.m.

Suffolk is projected to be in the path of about 86 to 87 percent obscuration, according to NASA solar physicist Ryan Milligan said that percentage will be a gradual change towards the peak moment with no major difference in afternoon sunshine, especially compared to 100 percent obscuration when the moon completely blocks the sun.

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This will be Milligan’s eighth eclipse when he observes the event somewhere along that path.

“It’s only when you get into the 100 percent zone that it turns dark as night,” he said. “That’s why people travel all the world to see these things for just a couple of minutes. It’s really incomparable to anything else you’re going to see.”

Some Suffolk residents will be reminded of March 7, 1970, the day of an attempted festival in honor of a previous solar eclipse for the appropriately named Eclipse community.

At that time, Boston University professor Dr. Phillip Sigler proposed a rock festival in the Eclipse community to celebrate its namesake, according to “The River Binds Us,” a historical account of the Crittenden, Eclipse and Hobson communities published by Suffolk River Heritage Inc.

Sigler’s idea was ultimately rejected, but the community did receive visitors, including stamp collectors who descended upon the post office for a souvenir labeled ���Eclipse, Va.”

“Students from William and Mary, astronomers with 50 pounds of equipment, and stamp collectors from many states did join the locals to view the eclipse of the sun from the banks of the Chuckatuck Creek,” according to the account.

Another event is planned for another eclipse, and once again, a village in northern Suffolk — Chuckatuck this time — is the place to visit for one of the best views in the city.

Suffolk libraries is hosting a “Total Eclipse of the Sun Party” from 1 to 4 p.m. at Chuckatuck Library on Godwin Boulevard. There will be snacks, arts and crafts, and games on the lawn. In case of poor weather, each library branch will live stream the eclipse on their video screens.

Library staff will offer 300 solar eclipse sunglasses provided by the Space Science Institute based in Boulder, Colo., for use during the party while supplies last. The institute has donated the specialized sunglasses to libraries across the country to promote safety.

“We just want to provide the opportunity for people to experience the eclipse safely, because experiencing it without those glasses can be very dangerous for their eyes,” said Jennifer Brown, youth and family services manager with Suffolk Public Libraries.

According to an Aug. 2 post on, those looking for the eclipse this Monday should prepare themselves with solar viewers that have a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard, along with the manufacturer’s name and address.

No solar viewers should be used if they are damaged or older than three years. Viewing without proper protection can result in retina damage and partial or total blindness.

“Your retinas don’t have any pain receptors as well, so you don’t know your eyes are being damaged until it’s too late,” Milligan said.

Visit for more information on safety, or for more information on the library event.