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Where to watch the eclipse in Rhode Island: Partial eclipse still comes with full-size fun

Staff reports
Providence Journal Staff

Wondering where to see the solar eclipse on April 8? While it will be visible across a large swath of the United States, in Rhode Island, only a partial eclipse will darken skies that day.

Looking directly at the sun,聽even when 90% of it is blocked,聽as it will be from Rhode Island that day, can damage your eyes, even though the damage may not be immediately detectable. The only safe way to look at the sun is through eclipse glasses, which blacken almost everything else.

What is a solar eclipse?

Every month, as part of the moon's orbit around the Earth, the moon passes on the same side of the Earth as the sun. Roughly two to four times a year, the three celestial bodies align so that the moon's shadow falls onto the surface of the earth, blocking out the sun's light. This is called a solar eclipse.

What's the difference between a total solar eclipse and a partial solar eclipse? And what's an annular eclipse?

When the alignment is perfect, the moon's shadow completely blocks the sun's light from reaching a narrow band of the Earth's surface. Locations within that band will see the circle of the sun go completely dark, which allows the glowing corona around it to become visible. Anywhere outside the narrow band of totality will see a partial eclipse, when the circle of the sun will appear anywhere from crescent-shaped to looking like a cookie with a bite taken out.

When a "total" eclipse happens while the moon is farthest from the earth in its orbit, its shadow is not big enough to block all of the sun, which appears as a fiery ring around the dark shape of the moon. This is called an annular eclipse.

Where and when will the partial eclipse be visible in Rhode Island?

From 2:15 to 4:38 p.m. April 8, the moon will partially cover the sun. This will be visible from all locations in Rhode Island. The maximum eclipse, when just more than 90% of the sun will be blocked, will be at 3:29 p.m.

Will observatories in Rhode Island host eclipse events?

Two prominent local observatories,聽聽and the聽in Charlestown, will be closed because their staff will be traveling 鈥 to Texas, Canada and points in between 鈥 to see the total eclipse.

"You don't need to be at a venue to enjoy an eclipse," said Scott MacNeill, director of the Frosty Drew Observatory. "You just need to be at a place where you can see the sun."

Other eclipse viewing events across Rhode Island

Brownell Library in Little Compton will host an Eclipse Viewing on April 8 from 2 to 4:30 p.m., with activities for all ages.

Tiverton Library is hosting The Great Eclipse Get-Together on April 8 from 1 to 4 p.m. The official NASA broadcast will be on the big screen for safe sun viewing. Borrow a pair of solar eclipse glasses or a pinhole projector if you wish to view the event outside. Light eclipse-themed refreshments will be served. All ages are welcome.

West Warwick Public Library is inviting the public to join in a safe-viewing of the eclipse on on April 8 from 2 to 4 p.m. The library will be handing out approved complimentary glasses leading up to the event and the day-of. There will be lawn games, crafts, music, and food.

The Museum of Natural History in Roger Williams Park will host a free family-friendly watch party for the partial solar eclipse. Each family visiting on April 8 will receive a聽free pair of eclipse viewing glasses, provided by the NASA Rhode Island Space Grant Consortium. This free community event includes free admission to the museum on Monday, April 8.

Sonic Drive-In announced a special eclipse-themed menu item to give fans an 鈥渙ut-of-this-world experience,鈥 according to a聽. The new Blackout Slush Float is available now for a limited time. What's in it? The Blackout is a sweet, cotton candy and dragon fruit flavored, all-black slush representing the temporary darkness from the solar eclipse and topped with creamy white soft serve and blue and purple galaxy-themed sprinkles. There are Sonic locations in Warwick and Smithfield, as well as Somerset, Massachusetts.

When will Rhode Island towns have the best view of the partial eclipse?

In Rhode Island, the best views will be in the northern part of the state, but this website shows the timing . Here's when the eclipse will start and the magnitude for a handful of Rhode Island locations:

  • Burrillville: 2:14:57 p.m., 92.6%
  • Central Falls: 2:25:23 p.m., 92%
  • Newport: 2:15:17 p.m., 90.%
  • Providence: 2:15:18 p.m., 91.9%
  • Warwick: 2:15:25 p.m., 91.5%
  • Westerley: 2:14:29 p.m., 90.9%

Also, USATODAY offers a special tool to show you what the eclipse will look like in your zip code.

Where can Rhode Islanders see the total eclipse in April?

The total eclipse will be visible from 14 U.S. states 鈥 Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Also, the eclipse will start in Mexico and briefly cross into Canada as it makes its way from Vermont and New Hampshire to Maine.