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home : columnists : columnists September 20, 2017


8/21/2017 4:00:00 AM
Gotta have the eclipse glasses
Ron Hurst, who was camped out in his lawn chair since 1:30 a.m. Friday, snagged the No. 1 ticket placeholder to receive eclipse-viewing glasses when Hamilton East Public Library’s Noblesville branch opened on Friday morning.
Ron Hurst, who was camped out in his lawn chair since 1:30 a.m. Friday, snagged the No. 1 ticket placeholder to receive eclipse-viewing glasses when Hamilton East Public Library’s Noblesville branch opened on Friday morning.
The Times photos by Betsy ReasonKatie Lorton , Hamilton East Public Library’s deputy director, informs people who are camped out for eclipse-viewing glasses on Friday morning, of the library’s limited supply.
The Times photos by Betsy Reason

Katie Lorton , Hamilton East Public Library’s deputy director, informs people who are camped out for eclipse-viewing glasses on Friday morning, of the library’s limited supply.

By Betsy Reason
Editor


You would have thought that people were in line for Black Friday. Maybe the grand opening of a new store. Or even tickets to a Jimmy Buffett concert.

Folks arrived as early as 1:30 a.m. Friday at Hamilton East Public Library's Noblesville branch, in hopes of scoring special solar eclipse-viewing safety eyeglasses to view today's highly publicized solar eclipse.

Both Noblesville and Fishers branch libraries gave away 100 pairs of eclipse-viewing glasses, first-come, first-served, when the doors opened at 9 a.m.

The glasses were snapped up fast, in less than five minutes.

Ron Hurst, 58, Fishers, was camped out in his lawn chair since 1:30 a.m.

"It wasn't that I had to be first," said Hurst, who wanted to make sure he got glasses for his grandkids.

During the seven-and-a-half hours until the library doors opened, he tried to sleep and did a little reading. Hurst wasn't in line for long until a couple arrived at about 2:30 a.m., then Darlene Jackson, 66, Carmel, joined them at 3:50 a.m. Then another woman arrived at 5 a.m., then more at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.

At 8 a.m., when I arrived, there were 62 people in line. The line continued to grow.

At 8:15 a.m., Katie Lorton, the library's deputy director, appeared and informed those in line, "As you probably heard, our supplies are very limited...." As she made the announcement, library employee, Brad Howell, adult services manager, handed out placeholder tickets to the first 20 people in line.

"If you don't get a ticket, the likelihood of you getting glasses is pretty low, and I'm sorry about that," Lorton said.

Angie (Quick) McNew, 42, Noblesville, was camped out in her lawn chair since 7:15 a.m., and snagged the 20th placeholder ticket. She and the other 19 were approached by many folks who didn't get tickets, asking to buy any extra tickets.

Each of the 20 people who received placeholder tickets was allowed to receive up to five pairs of the eclipse-viewing glasses.

Library director Edra Waterman said, after much discussion, the library "settled on five because that seemed to be a number that would meet a lot of the needs that we were hearing at the time. And we didn't want to change it after putting it out there."

The library received 800 eclipse-viewing glasses thanks to a grant from STAR Library Education Network, which distributed two million pairs of eclipse-viewing glasses free through public libraries in coordination with their eclipse programs.

Waterman said the grant required that most of the glasses be distributed for programming. The library already had one eclipse-related program and will have an eclipse-viewing program today at the Fishers library, where 600 pairs of eclipse-viewing glasses will be given away, one per person, during "The Great American Eclipse 2017" program. The library encourages folks to join staff from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Nickel Plate Amphitheater in Fishers to watch the eclipse, with free eclipse glasses, viewing safety information and a chocolate moonpie. Folks can also catch the NASA coverage in the library's meeting rooms; midpoint of the eclipse is at 2:25 p.m.

Today, the earth, sun, and moon will experience a solar eclipse that will last more than 90 minutes. The celestial bodies will line up to partially or completely block the sun from view, depending on the location in the United States. While Central Indiana won't experience a total solar eclipse, residents will see a partial eclipse where the sun will be about 91 percent covered, according to Link Observatory Space Science Institute in Mooresville, Ind., which has donated thousands of the safety eclipse-viewing glasses to local public schools, including Westfield Washington and Hamilton Southeastern Schools, according to spokesperson Amy Shankland.

The solar eclipse is anticipated to be the most viewed astronomical event of the century.

At local schools, there will be no afternoon recess and afternoon physical education classes will take place indoors. Teachers will close blinds in their classrooms. There will be no fire drills or field trips. Bus drivers are asked to caution students, and outdoor athletic practices will be delayed.

At Noblesville Schools, parents have been asked to sign permission slips to allow students to view the solar eclipse wearing provided eclipse-viewing glasses. However, Noblesville East Middle School parents were informed Friday that the school wasn't able to secure glasses.

I learned about the library's giveaway when I visited the library Thursday evening, asking about where to find the hard-to-find eclipse glasses, which offer special-purpose solar filters, the only way to safely look directly at the eclipsed or partially eclipsed sun.

Howell and his staff have been keeping tally of the hundreds of telephone inquiries daily from folks wanting to obtain solar eclipse-viewing safety eyeglasses. "There has never been a moment today that the phone is not ringing (about glasses inquiries)," he said.

"I've never seen anything like this before," said Howell, showing the library's handwritten tallies numbering more than 300 callers, on Thursday alone.

He said while local stores are out of the glasses and other libraries have already given away all of their glasses, he said families who can't find the glasses can make their own pinhole projector, to safely view the eclipse, with instructions available at the library.

Howell grinned and said, "It's fun to see how excited people have gotten about this."

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.







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