MIAMI COUNTY — Next month, millions of eyes will turn to the skies for the first total solar eclipse visible across the continental United States since 1918.
The most important thing you can do if you plan on watching the Great American Eclipse on Aug. 21? Make sure your eyes are properly protected.
Libraries in Miami County have got you — and your eyes — covered. They’re offering free pairs of eclipse glasses while supplies last, and many are planning viewing parties and other events.
Most of the libraries are recipients of grants from the Space Science Institute, with funding from NASA, Google and more. The grant distributed hundreds of pairs of eclipse glasses to libraries across the country with the stipulation that they provide public outreach programs about the solar eclipse and ensure that the public knows how to safely watch the solar eclipse.
“SSI was trying to figure out a way to educate the public so that there would be safe watching of the eclipse,” Tipp City Public Library children’s librarian Heidi Martin explained. “They chose libraries to be the vehicle to get these (glasses) out to the public.”
It’s also perfect opportunity to encourage an interest in astronomy and science, Martin said.
While Miami County isn’t in the “totality” — the area where the sun is totally blocked — everyone will be able to see a partial eclipse, Mike Feinstein of the Stillwater Stargazers said. The closest place in the totality for those wishing to see the full event is in western Kentucky.
“We’ll see a disappearance of about 90 percent of the sun. There will be a very nice bright crescent,” Feinstein said. The Stillwater Stargazers have partnered with several local libraries to present information about eclipses and how to safely view them.
Feinstein also added that the eclipse event will take several hours as the moon travels across the sun. The event will start around 1 p.m., with the time of peak coverage around 2:30 p.m.
Even at the peak, when the sun is 90 percent covered, it will still be too bright to look at with the naked eye, Feinstein stressed. An eclipse can be safely viewed with special glasses or with a projection method like a pinhole camera.
If you miss this one, he added, clear your schedule in advance for the next one in April 2024. Miami County will be in the direct path of that eclipse, with a much better view.
Eclipse events and viewing parties
The Tipp City Public Library is sponsoring the Great American Eclipse Viewing Party on the front lawn of the Zion Lutheran Church on 14 W. Walnut St. in Tipp City on Monday, Aug. 21, from 1-2:30 p.m. Bring a lawn chair and your solar viewing apparatuses. A limited number of glasses will be available at the party.
The Milton-Union Public Library will host several programs leading up to the solar eclipse open house Aug. 21, and will also provide viewing glasses. On Saturday, Aug. 12, at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., amateur astronomers Ron and Joann Wagner from the Stillwater Stargazers will display “Hydrogen Alpha”, a special filter for viewing the sun and white light solar telescopes. On Thursday, Aug. 17, at 6:30 p.m., the Wagners will be speaking about to safely view. the eclipse.
During the eclipse on Aug. 21, the library will host an open house from 12:45-4 p.m. The library will offer refreshments, a live stream of the eclipse indoors, as well as eclipse viewing glasses for outside viewing.
The Oakes-Beitman Memorial Library in Pleasant Hill and the Troy-Miami County Public Library worked together on obtaining a grant for glasses, Oakes-Beitman branch supervisor Andrea Wackler said. Both locations will be passing out glasses.
Both libraries are also planning other events, including possible viewing parties, and will be announcing their plans soon, so keep an eye on their social media pages for more information.
At the Piqua Public Library, patrons can pick up eclipse glasses at the front desk starting Aug. 7, chair of programming Robin Heintz said. The glasses are limited to one pair per person.
While the Piqua library is not currently planning to host a viewing party, they will provide a cool place for folks to get out of the heat that day, Heintz added. They’re also considering offering a free movie that evening. Check their website for more details.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.