Washington Evening Journal

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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 20, 2018

Programs explore Aug. 21 eclipse

By David Hotle | Aug 08, 2017
Library assistant Jenisa Hanson tries on a pair of eclipse glasses with help from director Debbie Stantion.



With the countdown on to the total solar eclipse that will happen on Aug. 21, the first time such an event has occurred since June 1918, the Washington Public Library want to make sure people have the chance to learn more about the phenomena and get to see it first hand.

Library director Debbie Stanton said that the sun won’t be fully blocked out by the moon in Washington, however, the moon will block most of the sun giving viewers in Washington a good view of the event. Maximum coverage in Washington is at 1:12 p.m. To that end, the library has secured 200 special glasses to protect the vision of people who wish to view the eclipse. The glasses, which block out most light from coming through, are considered the only safe way to look at the partially eclipsed sun. Stanton said even welding masks don’t filter out enough light to safely stare at the sun.

“We are very excited about celebtrating the eclipse here in Washington,” Stanton said. “This is the closest that it is going to be in Iowa (to being a total eclipse). In fact it will hit the tiniest little corner in Iowa that only goes across farmland and no actual public property. In any event, we are close enough that we should have a very good show.”

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon’s apparent diameter is larger than the Sun’s, blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness. Totality occurs in a narrow path across Earth’s surface, with the partial solar eclipse visible over a surrounding region thousands of kilometers wide. The next solar eclipse will occur in April 2024.

The eclipse celebration begins at noon Monday, Aug. 14, when University of Iowa astronomy professor Steven Spangler presents a solar program. Spangler will discuss the history of the sun and the histroy of eclipses. He will also have a solar telescope so people can look at the sun. Stanton said the telescope is specially designed to filter out light and people shouldn’t try using a normal telescope to look at the sun.

The eclipse party will be downtown in front of the library from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21. Stanton said there will be storytime, crafts, snacks and music to go with the eclipse. There will also be live streaming coverage of the eclipse all morning on the big screen in the Nicola-Stoufer Room. Due to the nature of the glasses being provided filtering out most light and nullifying normal sight, the streets in front of the library will be partially closed for the viewing.

Stanton said a reservation is not necessary to attend either event and people can just show up.

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