Muhlenberg County Public Libraries is ready to celebrate the Great American Eclipse this summer!
The library has programs planned all through the month of August to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event.
The fun starts Aug. 1 with an outer space-themed coloring contest. Coloring sheets will be available at either library location and may be returned to either location any time before close of business on Aug. 18. Winners will be announced the day of the eclipse.
A presenter from Nashville’s Adventure Science Center will visit the Central City library on Thursday, Aug. 10 at 6 p.m. for a kickoff family program. This program will feature important eclipse information for families who want to watch the eclipse, including what an eclipse is, what causes it and safe viewing tips. The library recommends that any families who intend to enjoy this unique event make plans to attend the kickoff program on Aug. 10 and get this crucial information.
The library will have games and crafts available the week prior to the eclipse. The Central City branch will host a children’s galaxy scavenger hunt Aug. 14-18, and both library locations will have craft supplies to make a glow-in-the-dark color-changing bracelet available all week Aug. 14-18. Both of these activities may be completed any time during normal library hours.
The library is also planning a couple of online contests requiring patrons to like and share the library’s Facebook page and answer eclipse-related trivia questions for a chance to win a prize.
Even the library’s Teen Craft Night for August will have an eclipse theme. Craft Night is scheduled for Aug. 14 at 5 p.m. at Thistle Cottage. Participating teens will make pinhole projectors, which, among other uses, may be used to safely view a partial eclipse. Since totality only lasts such a short time (1 minute, 44 seconds in downtown Greenville and 45 seconds in downtown Central City) these can be helpful.
Each library branch will also host a children’s eclipse party for ages 18 months to 5 years with snacks, games, crafts and activities. These parties will be Aug. 17 at 10:30 a.m. at Central City and Aug. 18 at 10:30 a.m. at Harbin Memorial. These fun events will include snacks, games, crafts and activities for children.
The main event goes down on Aug. 21, 2017. Muhlenberg County Public Libraries will host free public viewing sites at the Central City library and at Thistle Cottage. Free eclipse gear, including snacks, drinks and eclipse glasses, will be available while supplies last. The library is planning several games and activities to coincide with the lead-up to the eclipse, culminating in the total eclipse. The viewing parties will begin at noon and last until 2 p.m., with totality occurring just before 1:30 p.m. at both sites.
The library has also created custom eclipse-specific filters for Snapchat and Facebook Camera so visitors can mark this special event with a one-of-a-kind photo. These photo filters will only be available to those who are physically at the library’s eclipse viewing sites on Aug. 21.
All of the activities listed above are provided for free by Muhlenberg County Public Libraries with support from Pizza Plus, Brother’s BBQ, IDK Family Restaurant and Stellian’s.
This summer’s eclipse is an incredible opportunity. Total solar eclipses occur about once every 18 months somewhere in the world, but many experts, including those cited by the Hayden Planetarium’s Joe Rao in a column on space.com (https://www.space.com/25644-total-solar-eclipses-frequency-explained.html) estimate that a particular location may only see a total eclipse once every 360 years or more. The last total solar eclipse visible anywhere in the United States was in 1991, and that one was only visible from part of Hawaii. For many Americans, this is the only total solar eclipse they will see in their lifetime.
During a total solar eclipse, the sun is completely blocked by the moon as it travels between the sun and Earth. Only the sun’s atmosphere, which is described as looking something like a diamond ring in the sky, will be visible. The sky will darken to a deep twilight, and some stars may be visible even in the middle of the day. This is the only time humans can look directly at the sun without protective eyewear and not risk permanent injury to their eyes. At all other times, including partial eclipse, protective filters such as eclipse glasses must be worn to protect the eyes. The library is providing these protective glasses for free during the eclipse while supplies last.
For more information and details about Muhlenberg County Public Libraries’ eclipse programming, watch this page and follow the library on Facebook.