CHATHAM, NJ - Luckily for Chatham residents in the proximity of 10 Cherry Lane in the borough, Stanley Tokarz Jr. wasn't up to lugging his Dobsonian 10-inch Telescope to the observatory in Boonton.
"I belong to the Sheep Hill Astronomical Association in Boonton and I couldn't go because I had a shoulder operation a few months ago and I couldn't carry the telescope," Tokarz said. "So I decided to do it in my back yard."
Because he decided to stay home, Tokarz's neighbors were treated to a view of the rare solar eclipse through his telescope, which has a solar filter to make it safe for viewing.
"It was kind of normal and unique at the same time," Joseph DeCandia, 13, said. "Something super simple like the sun, but it was crazy because you never get to see something like this."
Tokarz set up his telescope the night before to test it out and was ready at 1:30 p.m. when the solar eclipse could start to be seen in New Jersey.
"I came out here at 1:30 and it was just beginning to cover the sun," Tokarz said. "These guys (his neighbors) came in a little at time. They all saw it at the maximum, which was 2:45.
"It happens so rarely, it's just amazing. The shadow of the moon is passing over the earth and covering up the sun, it's a miracle of nature."
Tokarz has owned his Dobsonian Telescope for 20 years and he's gotten plenty of use from it at all times of the night.
"I look at everything all the tme," he said. "I could be out here at 3 o'clock in the morning looking at Mars and people are wondering 'what's he doing out there.' It's so beautiful. Once you see Saturn or a comet, you're hooked."