You can read about eclipses in a book at the Kewanee Public Library, but the best way to experience Monday’s solar eclipse is by going there in person.
The library is offering a program that day that will help members of the community witness the rare celestial event with their own eyes — and learn a little about what makes it happen in the first place.
“It’s come about out of my love for astronomy,” said Barbara Love, the library’s director. “I can still remember seeing the eclipse when I was just a kid in grade school. I remember it getting dark and it being really weird.”
The event won’t happen again in the U.S. to such a degree for another 100 years.
“It’s one of those non-repeatable life events that you can’t just ignore,” she said. “Logically, it doesn’t seem like the moon could be big enough to hide the sun.”
Thanks to a NASA grant, the library will be handing out special glasses to view the eclipse, as well as informational presentations. Staff members spent the summer focusing on the science behind the eclipse with its summer reading program.
“People can come and view the eclipse and visit the different stations that demonstrate why we have eclipses,” she said, not to mention munch on sun-themed eclipse cookies.
Residents can stop by the library to get a pair of the darkened glasses while supplies last.
“They are completely black,” she said. “You can’t see anything out of them.”
Children’s science author Jannifer Powelson will also be on hand.
The event will be held from 11:49 to 2:40 to coincide with the eclipse, which will reach “maximum totality” in Kewanee at 1:16 p.m.
Even then, there still is the possibility of seeing stars in the middle of the day.
Love said residents need to have glasses to view the eclipse, considering there will still be about 9 percent of the sun showing — enough to cause permanent eye damage if viewed directly.
If it’s cloudy out and eclipse is not viewable from the ground, NASA has set up special live coverage from several U.S. locations that will be broadcasted on its television station.
“So, even if it’s cloudy out, you’ll still be able to see the eclipse,” she said. “That’s the backup plan.”