Right from the start, when the Arlington Heights Memorial Library began offering solar glasses — in advance of Monday’s solar eclipse — they went through 500 pairs in the first hour alone. By early afternoon they had handed out 700 pairs.

Allison Parker, Youth Services Librarian, tries on a pair of viewing glasses (Photos by Stephanie Battista/Arlington Heights Memorial Library)

The distribution of the viewing glasses comes as the library and Arlington Heights Park District are partnering to throw a viewing party of this rare, astronomical event. The Solar Eclipse Viewing Party takes place from 1-3 p.m. Monday, April 8 at North School Park in Arlington Heights.

While the library has been handing out the glasses to residents — and might be running out soon — those patrons who register for the party are assured of getting the viewing glasses. Register through the library’s website, here: https://www.ahml.info/attend/events.

These NASA approved viewing glasses were provided with funding from a Space Science Institute initiative, and are only available while supplies last. Pick them up at the library’s Info Desk (on the first floor) during regular library hours through April 8.

“Patrons are coming in a lot faster than we thought,” says Nikki Camp, the library’s programs and exhibits coordinator. “We didn’t think supply would be an issue, but clearly people are excited about this event.”

Catalina Shin, Community Engagement Liaison; Somya Goswami, Acquisitions Assistant and Allison Parker, try out the glasses.

This rare eclipse is being dubbed the Great North American Eclipse because the totality will be viewable across all provinces in Canada, the mainland United States and Mexico. It will be the last visible eclipse here until 2044. In Arlington Heights, residents will experience a partial eclipse, with 92.6% totality. The solar eclipse will begin in Arlington Heights at approximately 12:51 p.m. and reach its maximum point at 2:07 p.m.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon perfectly aligns with the sun, casting a shadow over the planet and turning day into twilight. Both the library and park district will offer educational activities at North School Park, during the two-hour span of the eclipse. Patrons can learn more about what happens during a solar eclipse, how it differs from a lunar eclipse, as well as how to view the eclipse safely. They can also take a photo at the library’s photo station.

In case of inclement weather, the library will offer a live feed of the eclipse and do activities in the Hendrickson Room located on the second floor of the library.

“The educational component of the viewing party is part of the library’s mission, as we hope to educate patrons about aspects of space and encourage them to learn more about it in our collection,” Camp says. “Mostly, we’re excited to be able to provide the resources for the community to watch this rare event together, which doesn’t happen very often.”


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