Western Pocono library welcomes eclipse observers
Cosmic observers packed the lawn at the Western Pocono Community Library in Brodheadsville on Monday afternoon in anticipation of the solar eclipse.
Thanks to director Carol Kern's preparation, the library was able to obtain hundreds of pairs of eclipse sunglasses, which were distributed to the community for free."We got the glasses through a grant from NASA. We set up the event back in December, January of last year, when I had it on the agenda," Kern said. "It helps to promote solar awareness. There's a lot about science that can be learned from this eclipse."Palmerton Historical Society's Peter Kern, Carol's husband, manned a reflecting telescope close to the building, constantly fine-tuning the instrument to ensure that he would be prepared for first contact."This is a reflecting telescope. I bought this telescope when I was 12 years old, and it cost me $29.95. It has a mirror at the far end. Whatever it is that you're looking at, whether it's a star or the sun or the moon, the image comes in and goes all the way down to the mirror. It's a parabolic mirror, so it focuses back to a single point, where a second mirror, a smaller mirror, takes it through the lens. That's how you can see the image," Kern said, holding up a folder that the sun's image projected upon.Before the event's start at 1 p.m., numerous watchers had already set up their chairs and blankets.As first contact - the point at which the moon begins to pass in the front of the sun - began, floods of people came out on the lawn, not before stopping by at Kern's station to get a photo of the projected eclipse."Everybody is so excited about this once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the eclipse across the United States. How could I not come out? I came with my friend Diane, we signed up at the library so that we wouldn't miss it," Catherine Pressey of Albrightsville said. "This is an experience that children will tell their grandchildren about someday."Eric White, who lives near the library, brought his daughter Zoe, 4, out to see the big event."I found out about this about two months ago. They said to sign up, and I knew it was something I wanted to see," White said. "It's a special event for her, even if she doesn't know it yet."Young astral-observers were particularly intrigued by the event, and were struck by the view as they peered through their shades or looked at the image from Kern's telescope."It's cool to think that we're looking at something that nobody has seen in 99 years in our country," Higan Peters, 11, said.Nearing 2:42 p.m., all eyes went up toward the sun to observe the maximum coverage in our area, which hovered around 74 percent. Though the region did not experience the darkness of totality, an eerie, hazy change in light blanketed the lawn for a little while.Those in attendance were thrilled with the opportunity to take in the eclipse, an event which Eric Peters of Albrightsville said brought countless people together in a fantastic way."It's awesome. We're all doing the exact same thing as hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people are doing at the same moment," Peters said. "Even though we're not all together, we're sharing in that experience. It's something to marvel at."