Queen Anne’s County library hosts eclipse parties
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.
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.
People look up at the partial eclipse Monday afternoon at the Centreville Library during a viewing party at about 2:40 p.m.
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.