THE FIRST TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN IN 99 years — well, it’ll almost be a total eclipse in our neck of the woods — is coming Aug. 21.

And a local NASA representative says it’s vitally important that everyone who plans on catching the eclipse outdoors be fully prepared to do so properly.

Laura Checki, of Lyndhurst, is also a subject matter expert in the sciences who teaches science teachers. The NASA representative says there are four ways to properly watch the eclipse. Each has its own benefits. All are designed to allow folks to see the eclipse.

No alternatives are acceptable. Absolutely none. And if you take away anything from this story, Checki insists itís that if you donít follow one of the four methods for watching, you’re putting your vision at risk.

“In New Jersey, 71.33% of the eclipse will be visible,” said Checki, a NASA JPL Solar System ambassador. “We’re calling it the ‘Eclipse Across America.’ Most important is how people view it.”

Checki’s four ways to watch the eclipse include:

1. Using only certified solar eclipse glasses.

“The ISO is 12312-2,” she said. ìThese are the only ones people should be using or wearing. No others. They must be CE certified. As I’ve told others, it’s these — not sunglasses. Not X-ray film. It’s the 12312-2 solar eclipse glasses.”

2. Use No. 14 Welders’ glasses.

“I’m not sure I know anyone who has these, but if you do, they’ll work,” Checki said.

3. Use a pinhole projector.

Visit to learn how to make one.

4. Use a solar telescope.

Using this kind of telescope will allow the viewer to see the eclipse completely without any sort of eye damage.

In our area, the eclipse will begin at around 1:22 p.m., Aug. 21. It will reach totality at 2:44 p.m. (or nearly 72% here.) In all, it ends at 4 p.m.

Checki said one of the cool parts of the eclipse is that as it’s happning, it will trick wildlife.

“Birds will stop chirping,” she said. “They actually stop chirping. Isn’t that the coolest thing?”

Others animals, like nocturnal bats, could be tricked into thinking it’s time to wake up. They’ll be in for a rude awakening, however, when the darkness lasts only a few minutes.

Checki says we should expect a greyish-ness during the eclipse, not pitch black, like we get at night.

“Still, it will be dark for the afternoon,” she said.

It’ll also be a while before the next solar eclipse — it’s slated for April 8, 2024.

Meanwhile, at Lincoln School, Kearny, science teachers Elaine McCarthy and Jess McMasters will host a viewing in the Lincoln School Learning Garden that day, Aug. 21, from 2 to 4 p.m. The first 100 participants will receive the viewing glasses Checki mentioned earlier.

Access is from the Kearny Ave. entrance nearest the pool. Children not in at least the sixth-grade must be accompanied by an adult.

For more details, call Lincoln School at 201-955-5095.

Kevin Canessa | Journalist & Webmaster

Kevin Canessa Jr. is a journalist and webmaster at The Observer. He is responsible for the editorial content on the newspaper's website, the production of the e-Edition, covering the Nutley Police Department and more behind the scenes. From 2006 to 2008, he served as the editor of The Observer, where he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video for the very first time. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Fla., for four years until February 2016 and in 2016, moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.