This guest post was written by Beth Crist, Youth & Family Services Consultant, Colorado State Library.
A total solar eclipse is coming to the United States on August 21, 2017. Dubbed the Great American Eclipse, all areas of the country will be able to see at least a partial solar eclipse, in which the moon covers the sun; those in a 70-mile wide band starting in Oregon and stretching to South Carolina will be able to experience a total eclipse. In Colorado, the sun will be partially obscured, from about 80% in the southwest to 98% in the northeast. Depending on your location in the state, the eclipse will last from sometime after 10:15 a.m. to about 1:15 p.m., culminating around 11:40 a.m.
Eclipse Programs and Events
Across Colorado, public libraries are excellent places to learn more about the eclipse as well as view it safely and socially. Many libraries are providing excellent programs before and during the eclipse; here are just a few examples:
At the Basalt Regional Library from 2:00–5:00 p.m. on August 8, visitors can experience STAR Lab to gaze up at the stars inside a dome. Then, on August 9 from 5:30–6:30 p.m., astronomer Bryan White explains what happens during a solar eclipse; his program includes a 3-D presentation of the Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights and other astronomical spectacles. The library will also host an eclipse viewing party with live-streaming of the eclipse from NASA, at which they’ll provide space-themed snacks such as Starburst candies, Moon Pies, and Milky Way bars. On August 27 from 4:00–6:00 p.m., the library is partnering to provide a program at the Basalt Art Base with acclaimed artists and scientists to investigate the pull of the universe and our artistic relation to place and space.
The Security Public Library is hosting a solar eclipse art contest open to all ages and in a wide variety of acceptable media, with winners in five age categories . The library also has a large model orrery and display that patrons can rotate and interact with in order to recreate what will happen in space, materials for patrons to make eclipse flip books, and will offer live-streaming of the eclipse from NASA.
Visitors to the Cañon City Public Library can make eclipse viewers out of boxes, and those with young children can enjoy craft and story times around the eclipse in the week prior to August 21.
The John C. Fremont Library in Florence is offering a talk about eclipses on August 15 at 7:00 p.m. by Clint Smith, Vice President of Dark Skies of the Wet Mountain Valley; he will also share astronomical fun facts, along with information about the Smokey Jack Observatory in Westcliffe. The library will host a viewing party on the day of the eclipse.
In the weeks before the eclipse, visitors to various branches of the Pueblo City-County Library District will be able to build scale models of the earth, moon, and sun to create a solar eclipse; during the eclipse, all of the branches will hold viewing parties of the NASA live stream.
On August 21, the Broomfield Library will provide a special solar eclipse story time at 10:00 a.m. followed by hands-on activities and crafts; they’ll also offer a live stream of the total solar eclipse.
At the Sterling Public Library on August 7 at 2:00 p.m., join a program for kids of all ages for fun crafts featuring the moon, the sun, and shadows, along with eclipse safety and different ways to view the eclipse. On August 14 at 6:00 p.m., David Coles, an astronomy instructor at Northeastern Junior College, will lead a program about eclipses geared towards older children and adults; there will also be an eclipse viewing party at the library on the 21st, with sack lunch available for purchase.
At the Lyons Regional Library, the Lyons Summer Book Club has featured David Baron’s American Eclipse; the community-wide discussion of the book will occur on August 9 beginning at 6:30 p.m. The library is also hosting an all-ages sun and moon story time on August 16 at 10:30 a.m.; visitors can then watch the live stream of the eclipse from NASA on the 21st.
Montrose Regional Library is partnering with the Black Canyon Astronomical Society to offer a night sky viewing event at Cerise Park on August 15 at 8:00 p.m.; the group will also answer questions about the solar eclipse, and participants can get eclipse glasses. On the 21st, go to the library to celebrate the eclipse with stories, games, activities, and crafts, followed by a viewing party.
The Wilkinson Public Library in Telluride will provide a free stargazing event on August 15 at 9:00 p.m. at the top of the Gondola, where an astronomer will speak about the solar eclipse. The library will also host a story time and solar eclipse crafts for all ages on the 21st starting at 10:15 a.m.
The Elizabeth branch of Pines and Plains Libraries is providing crafts and refreshments at an eclipse viewing party at Casey Jones Park.
The Windsor-Severance Library of Clearview Library District is hosting an educational program and solar viewing on Saturday, August 12 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Mente Veldhuis and volunteers from the Little Thompson Observatory will present information on the sun and its behavioral cycles and make observations via telescope.
Garfield County Libraries’ Great American Eclipse program will take place at multiple branches from August 12 through August 19. Learn how to safely view the eclipse, then see amazing 3D images of solar events by astronomer and author Bryan White, who will also be available to sign his book, Prelude Lake. See the library website for details.
Check with your nearest public library to find out what eclipse-related programs they’re offering.
View with Care
To view the eclipse safely, it’s critical to protect your eyes with special glasses made specifically for watching eclipses. Many public library systems in Colorado are giving away these glasses free to community members through a national program sponsored by Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL). NCIL, located in Boulder, provided 2 million eclipse viewing glasses to libraries nationwide. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for libraries and their communities to work together to participate in a celestial event of this scope,” says Project Director Paul Dusenbery.
Colorado libraries that received these glasses, indicated in the list below, will provide them to community members while they last, and, due to limited supplies, some will provide the glasses only to those that attend eclipse-related programs. It’s best to contact your library in advance to ask about availability.
- Aurora Public Library
- Basalt Regional Library
- Broomfield / Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library
- Bud Werner Memorial Library
- Cañon City Public Library
- Dolores Library District
- Durango Public Library
- Eagle Valley Library District
- Estes Valley Public Library
- Gunnison County Library District
- Hayden Public Library
- Jefferson County Public Library
- John C. Fremont Library District
- La Junta/Woodruff Memorial Library
- Longmont Public Library
- Lyons Regional Library
- Montrose Regional Library District
- Nederland Community Library District
- Park County Public Library
- Pikes Peak Library District
- Pines and Plains Library
- Pitkin County Library
- Pueblo City-County Library District
- Red Feather Lakes Community Library
- Security Public Library
- South Routt Library District
- Sterling Public Library
- US Air Force Academy Base Library
- Wilkinson Public Library
- Yuma Public Library