Prepare for the sun to almost disappear

1918 was the last time the U.S. mainland experienced a total solar eclipse and you won’t want to miss it on Monday, Aug. 21. This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity! The path of totality begins on the west coast around midmorning and leaves the east coast more than three hours later. Although Topeka is slightly off the path, it is very close. See the hot events we have planned around the eclipse. You can also pick up free eclipse viewing glasses at the library and bookmobiles starting at 9 a.m. on Aug, 21.

Make-iT-Lab Viewers
You can create your own commemorative pinhole eclipse viewer for $5 in the library’s Make-It-Lab.

Eclipse Topeka STEM, Aug. 2, 7 p.m., Marvin Auditorium
Kids in grades 3-5, participate in hands-on activities led by college students from the Washburn University Education Department as part of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiative. Registration required.

Eclipse Prep, Aug. 9, 7 p.m., Marvin Auditorium
Let’s all get ready for the solar eclipse! We’ll learn about safe viewing methods and eclipse science from Janelle Burgardt, an amateur astronomer and the education coordinator with the Northeastern Kansas Amateur Astronomers League at Far Point Observatory.

Amazing Animals, Aug. 14, 4:30 p.m., Lingo Story Room
Kids 5 – 12 years old, discover what animals do when the moon blocks the sun, get up close and personal with featured creature guests and then make a memento of your encounter to take home.

Factual Fun: Eclipse, Aug. 16, 4:30 p.m., Dinosaur Zone
Kids 5 – 8 years old, have fun with activities and books about eclipses.

Eclipses: Fact, Fiction Folklore & Fun, Aug. 20, 3 p.m., Marvin Auditorium
Come see what all the “Great American Eclipse” hub-bub is all about through a historical perspective. Examine the truths and lies surrounding eclipses and the impacts eclipses have caused on society. This fast-paced often humorous romp through history and science with retired physics and astronomy professor Dr. Daryl Taylor and director of the Banner Creek Observatory Mike Ford will uncover the simple truth and beauty of these astronomical events. Q&A will follow. At this all ages event, adult attendees may pick up safe viewing glasses.

Topeka is just slightly off the path of solar eclipse totality. Image courtesy of NASA.

Eclipse Watch Parties, Aug. 21, 11:30 a.m.
DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN! Plan to see the solar eclipse safely. Sunglasses will not suffice! Telescopes without filters are not safe. There will be no point during the eclipse when it will be safe to view the sun with the naked eye in Topeka. See the safety tips.

Thanks to NASA’s Solar System Ambassador program and a grant from StarNet and the Space Science Institute, the library has a limited number of safe viewing glasses we’ll hand out the morning of Aug. 21. You may ask for up to two glasses per family at the Customer Service desk. Glasses will also be available at local community centers*, the Rescue Mission, the Topeka Metro station and on the bookmobiles for mini watch parties across the city. *Glasses will be available at the following community centers: Central, Crestview, Garfield, Hillcrest, Oakland, Shawnee North and Velma Paris.

On Monday, Aug. 21, we’ll have a watch party outside the library beginning at 11:30 a.m. and in Marvin Auditorium you can watch NASA’s live streaming of the eclipse from noon – 2 p.m.

Janet Pionkowski

Janet is a member of the Bookmobile staff serving the public on the bookmobiles and in elementary classrooms through the Kansas Connections programming as a Solar System Ambassador.