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Solar Eclipse for Kids readies children for eclipse

When the solar eclipse occurs on Aug. 21, local children will be prepared for it thanks to a series of classes hosted by the Spokane Public Library.

Solar Eclipse for Kids classes, which will be held at various library branches in early August, including a class at Shadle Library on Aug. 4, will teach children about eclipses and how to view them safely.

Librarian Cathy Bakken and her husband are amateur astronomers and will lead the classes.

“We talk about it a lot but a lot of us haven’t seen one or don’t know exactly what happens,” said Sally Chilson, the library’s learning and literacy coordinator. “It talks about the process, talks about where we are. We’re really close so it will be fairly dark here but not completely dark because we’re not in the path of totality. And ‘path of totality’ is a fairly new phrase for me as well so all of that vocabulary that goes along with an event like that.”

Children will also make their own pinhole viewer, which will act like a pinhole camera except instead of capturing an image, they are used to view an image.

“It’s a way to safely see the sun without damaging your eyes, so even if you don’t have eclipse glasses, then you can still see it,” Chilson said.

Eclipse glasses, which look like 3-D glasses with shiny mylar lenses, will also be available at the library, provided by the STAR Library Education Network, a program that assists libraries with STEM programming.

The eclipse project is supported in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, with help from Google, the National Science Foundation and NASA.

Eclipse glasses will first be given to those who attend the solar eclipse classes. Any remaining glasses will be available for the public at the library starting Aug. 11.

“I will admit I had to go out and try them and it’s really cool,” Chilson said. “But you have to be careful because they’re so dark that all you see is the sun, so you want to make sure you’re in a place where you can stand safely or sit down if you tend to get dizzy, because you aren’t seeing anything but the sun at that point.”

The first Solar Eclipse for Kids class, which was held in early July, drew 95 people, which Chilson called a substantial turnout.

“When it’s something that’s so timely, and whether you know what it is or not, it’s going to happen around you, so having that kind of turnout was really neat,” she said.

The library will also host eclipse classes geared toward adults called Your Guide to the Solar Eclipse at the South Hill Library, 6:30 p.m. Monday, and at the Shadle Library, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.


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