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New York families flocked outside Monday afternoon, eager for their kids to take part in a once-in-a-generation learning experience.

Across the state and other parts of the country, a total solar eclipse darkened the sky, offering a momentary opportunity to engage directly in the science behind the cosmic event.

Though the city was not in the direct path of totality, New York City families could still see the unique phenomenon unfold as the moon passed over the sun. The next total eclipse in the state will not occur until 2079, according to state officials.

On a grassy field behind the New York Hall of Science in Queens, hundreds gathered to view the eclipse. Kids enjoyed museum activities like “astronaut training,” which had them completing tasks while wearing thick gloves that mimic real-life astronauts’ gear. Others played on the lawns, tossing Frisbees or slotting in pieces on giant Connect Four boards while upbeat music blared from a DJ station.

A mom and a 9-yr-old son wear solar eclipse viewing glasses while sitting in lawn chairs on a grassy area with a large group of people sitting behind them.
Kamilah Jemmott, left, and her 9-year-old son, Kori, traveled from Suffolk County to view the eclipse on Mon., April 8, 2024 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York. (Julian Shen-Berro / Chalkbeat)

By the late afternoon, the festive spirit gave way to quieter observation as families put on their protective glasses and turned their gaze toward the sun. The eclipse, which began just after 2 p.m., reached its peak by roughly 3:30 p.m. and faded by the evening.

Tanya Keitt, a Brooklyn mom, said she rushed from Flatbush to her 8-year-old daughter’s school in Williamsburg, whisking her away right as classes let out.

As huge astronomy buffs, Keitt said they’ve tried their hand at engaging with space before. Recently, she got a telescope from her local library to watch a meteor shower with Mahalia, her daughter, on their roof. But to their disappointment, it was blocked by light pollution.

“We’re so excited to see something today,” Keitt said. “Me and my dad were really into the stars. I shared stars with him, and he shared them with me, so I’m really excited to do this with my daughter. It’s just really special.”

Kamilah Jemmott brought her two kids to Queens from Suffolk County to experience the eclipse.

An avid science fan, 9-year-old Kori had been planning the trip for more than a year, Jemmott said.

“First, I heard that the sun can go dark,” Kori said, explaining his excitement. “Then I found out shadows can grow sharper.”

He purchased his eclipse glasses in 2023 and brought them to Queens on Monday, and he wore a homemade eclipse shirt.

“It’s super cool,” he said. “I’m literally going to tell everyone when it’s full.”

As the eclipse neared its peak, parents sang along to Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and families watched the phenomenon unfold.

Two adults and one child sit on lawn chairs next to each other posing for a photograph with a large group of people in the background.
From left, Joseph, Elijah, and Melissa Matias pose for a photograph while viewing the eclipse on Mon., April 8, 2024 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York. (Julian Shen-Berro / Chalkbeat)

Elijah Matias, a fourth grader at P.S. 108 in Queens, said “his favorite thing is science.” Though he had an idea of what the eclipse would look like from online clips and video games, he was thrilled to see it firsthand, bouncing with excitement as he talked about what he was seeing.

Joseph Matias, his father, said he pulled Elijah out of school early to make sure he got to witness the eclipse.

“It’s once or maybe twice in a lifetime,” he said. “And it’s a good family experience to share.”

Julian Shen-Berro is a reporter covering New York City. Contact him at