Queen Anne’s County li­brary hosts eclipse par­ties

Record Observer - - News - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

STEVENSVILLE — One week be­fore the par­tial eclipse in Mary­land, touted as a once in a gen­er­a­tion view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for peo­ple in cer­tain ar­eas through­out the United States, staff at the Queen Anne’s County Li­brary were deal­ing with a brand new com­puter sys­tem. This week, Kent Is­land Youth Ser­vices Li­brar­ian Elaine Con­way was shep­herd­ing more than 100 peo­ple gath­ered at the li­brary’s back park­ing lot wait­ing to see the moon blot out part of the sun.

Con­way, who helped or­ga­nize the view­ing, re­peat­edly told view­ers not to look di­rectly into the sun as it could dam­age their eyes, as well as their phones if pointed di­rectly at the ex­tra-bright light. That’s par­tially to do with the fact the li­brary, which gave out 25 pairs of eclipse-ap­proved eye­wear, didn’t have enough free pairs of shades for ev­ery­one in at­ten­dance.

One week ago, Con­way said staff re­al­ized that the 100 pairs they had or­dered was not go­ing to be enough. Though the li­brary gave away 75 pairs in a first-come, first-served sys­tem, Con­way said day-of they needed to keep a few to give out as most stores had run dry on them and res­i­dents were hav­ing a tough time find­ing a pair.

And they were right, as it was over­flow park­ing only at the Kent Is­land li­brary Mon­day af­ter­noon as peo­ple waited to see the var­i­ous stages of the eclipse. A line for the re­main­ing 25 pairs of glasses stretched al­most be­hind the li­brary, filled with peo­ple of all ages hop­ing to get a glimpse of the much talked about eclipse.

While the crowd wasn’t as big at the Cen­tre­ville Li­brary branch, the eclipse still drew a crowd. In Cen­tre­ville, the staff served up Moon Pies and Sun Crisp pack­ets to ev­ery­one along with spe­cial eclipse glasses needed to look at the sun dur­ing the moon pass­ing in front of it.

At 2:43 p.m., Con­way in­formed view­ers the eclipse was at its height, mean­ing it would not cover the sun any fur­ther. But be­fore 2:43 p.m., on-look­ers, stand­ing in groups of fam­ily mem­bers and friends, could see the early stages of the cres­cent look­ing sun.

Though not ev­ery­one was able to re­ceive a pair of safety ap­proved glasses, the li­brary put out pa­per for peo­ple to make their own pin­hole pro­jec­tor us­ing two note­cards, one with a tiny hole in it to project the cres­cent sun onto the other sec­ond sheet. The li­brary also en­cour­aged peo­ple to share their shades with fel­low view­ers.

Other peo­ple, us­ing ce­real boxes with cuts and tin­foil, looked through their hand­made con­trap­tions to see the sun’s re­flec­tion in their boxes.

Gino Bassani and Luisa Gallini, orig­i­nally from An­cona, Italy, said they were sur­prised by the de­gree of ex­cite­ment sur­round­ing the gath­er­ing. Bassani couldn’t re­mem­ber when, but said he had seen a par­tial eclipse one time in Italy.

For Ch­ester res­i­dent Con­nie Baker, who has seen at least four eclipses in her life­time, she said she came out on a whim be­cause she had “cu­rios­ity to see if any­thing” had changed. Grow­ing up in York, Pa., Baker said her mother took her out for mul­ti­ple eclipse-sight­ings when she was a kid.

Leo Dji­watampu of Ch­ester said he was grate­ful the li­brary held a view­ing event to al­low many peo­ple their fist time ex­pe­ri­ence see­ing a astro­nom­i­cal event such as the eclipse. He said he was also thank­ful be­cause many places around town had sold out of glasses, and he was one of many peo­ple who didn’t get a pair weeks in ad­vance.

Ch­ester res­i­dent Kirstin Pon­dex­ter, who also at­tended be­cause she couldn’t find eclipse glasses else­where, said not only was the sight in the sky cool, but so was the sight on the ground. She said she en­joyed see­ing the com­mu­nity as­pect of peo­ple com­ing to­gether for an event.

Damian Han­ra­han of Stevensville said it was “re­ally ex­cit­ing,” a phrase many peo­ple ut­tered while gaz­ing up at the sky, and that it made her feel more aware in the world. She, like some oth­ers, had seen an eclipse when she was younger, she said.

Though no one was “beamed up,” as one res­i­dent joked might hap­pen af­ter the eclipse passed, com­mu­nity mem­bers were able to en­joy a rare event not to be for­got­ten.

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.

PHOTO BY DAN TABLER

A few of the eclipse-watch­ing peo­ple who came to the view­ing at the Queen Anne’s County Li­brary in Cen­tre­ville, where the staff served up Moon Pies and Sun Crisp pack­ets to ev­ery­one along with spe­cial eclipse view­ing glasses needed to look at the sun dur­ing the moon pass­ing in front of it. You could see about 75 per­cent of the eclipse here, as the to­tal eclipse was only vis­i­ble in a 70-mile-wide strip across the coun­try on Mon­day af­ter­noon.

PHOTO BY DAN TABLER

Peo­ple look up at the par­tial eclipse Mon­day af­ter­noon at the Cen­tre­ville Li­brary dur­ing a view­ing party at about 2:40 p.m.

PHOTO BY DAN TABLER

This is one of the boxes turned into eclipse-view­ers by some of the peo­ple who showed up at the Cen­tre­ville Branch of the Queen Anne’s County Li­brary Mon­day.

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