As if you haven’t heard, on Aug. 21 (that’s today!), there will be a total solar eclipse. Visit an eclipse watch party or buy solar eclipse glasses. Keep reading for more info!
What’s a total solar eclipse? For just a few minutes, the moon will pass between Earth and the sun, completely blocking the sun’s light — bringing temporary darkness to the day. (Depending on where you live, the coverage will vary.) In any case, it’s not to be missed, given it’s such a rare occurrence. It’s the first time since 1918 that a total solar eclipse will cross the entire continental U.S.
Before you look up, you need to protect your eyes and wear special solar eclipse glasses. A regular pair of sunglasses won’t cut it. And never ever look directly at the sun without proper protection. You need ones that are NASA-approved and ISO-certified. (According to the AAS article referenced by NASA, you should look for glasses that are verified by an accredited testing lab to meet the ISO 12312-2 standard. A few of the manufacturers to look for are American Paper Optics, Celestron, Lunt Solar Systems, and Daylight Sky. Some Amazon sellers, such as Soluna, sell glasses manufactured by one or more of these companies. Dillons stores also have certified eclipse glasses for just $1.99.)
Thanks to grants, more than 2 million FREE eclipse glasses have been distributed to 7,000-plus libraries across the U.S. — public, state, and tribal libraries, as well as book mobiles. Here is a map of libraries giving away complimentary solar eclipse glasses — click here. There is a huge demand for glasses, so call ahead to confirm participation and availability.
I’ve looked at the map, and none of the participating libraries are in Wichita. However, some Kansas libraries — including a few near Wichita — are indicated as participating on the map.
But if you’re not a patron of those libraries, you may still find low-cost and free glasses with which to view the eclipse. I’ve found several Wichita-area viewing parties that are free and open to the public. Some provide glasses, while others will have eclipse glasses for sale at very low cost. Be sure to click the links below for more information about these eclipse-watching events:
- Kids and teens can learn about the solar system and make a simple eclipse viewer at The Wichita Public Library’s Get Ready for the Eclipse event on Saturday, August 19.
- NuWay is having an eclipse special! Get a free root beer float with any order on Aug. 21, 2017 only.
- KAKE is hosting an eclipse watch party and will have glasses on sale for just $1.99.
- At the Great Plains Nature Center’s Lunch with Luna, you’ll be able to use and share eclipse glasses while enjoying your picnic lunch and educational kids’ activities.
- Citizens Bank of Kansas is hosting Great American Solar Eclipse Watch Parties at each of its six locations (two are in Wichita). They’ll give away free eclipse glasses (and sun tea and moon pies) while supplies last.
- The Exploration Place eclipse party looks like it will be a very large event, and they’ll only have glasses for the first 1000 people; however, they’ll also have solar telescopes set up on the plaza.
- The Omni Business Center has 50 eclipse glasses to share at its solar eclipse watch party.
- At the Total Eclipse of the Popup Librarians they didn’t promise glasses, but you can get lunch from the food trucks! (and free books)
- In Hutchinson, a limited number of eclipse glasses will be available to use at the Cosmosphere’s Solar Eclipse Viewing event. They also have special solar viewing equipment.
- Wichita State University is hosting a solar eclipse watch party for faculty, staff, and students.
If you want to ensure that you have glasses to watch the eclipse, you can buy them at area Dillons grocery stores. They told me they have tested and certified eclipse glasses as well as other fun merchandise.
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