Total excitement for partial eclipse at Middleboro library program

Apr 6, 2024

MIDDLEBORO — Break out those disco balls, a partial solar eclipse is heading this way.

The natural phenomenon, which occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, can be viewed overhead in the Middleboro/Lakeville area Monday, April 8 starting at about 2:15 p.m., with a peak of about 3:30 p.m. 

Scientists have been spreading the word about the importance of wearing safety eclipse glasses to view the phenomenon, since gazing at the sun with the naked eye can cause damage to one’s vision.

But the safety glasses are not the only ways to view the partial eclipse without harm, scientist and educator Jana Grcevich told those attending a program on the eclipse at the Middleboro Public Library Saturday April 6.

The view can be equally interesting— and totally safe— through a variety of objects found in most homes and backyards, she said.

A colander, normally used to strain foods, can be moved from the kitchen to the backyard for eclipse viewing. 

Keep your back to the sun and hold out the colander. The same holes that allow water to drain out serve as miniature projectors, resulting in crescent images of the sun spread on the ground.

The gaps between leaves and branches of a tree can play a similar role, allowing for safe and somewhat artistic viewing.

But for those looking for a little “Saturday Night Fever’’ on Monday, a disco ball serves the same purpose, Grcevich said, noting with a smile that this is one of her favorite options.

Each mirror tile of the swirling orb that is hit by the sun will reflect an image of the eclipse, leading to a range of suns that might appear to— appropriately enough— dance.

These images create “pinhole projections,’’ Grcevich said, which can even be achieved by criss-crossing your fingers. 

But of course solar eclipse glasses also do the job well, she said. Library staff distributed free glasses to those attending the program, which was sponsored by the Friends of the Middleboro Public Library.

No matter the choice of object, one should never view the sun directly, she stressed. The solar eclipse does not magnify the danger; the chances are just much greater that people will be viewing the closest sun to Earth at that time. 

Viewing the partial eclipse can be exciting, Grcevich said, with colors graying and the view becoming more dim. But the changes can be subtle and not always obvious.

A total eclipse, she said, is a totally different story, or, as she described it, “night and day.’’

She viewed one in 2017 and, even with her scientific background, she said she could understand how some cultures could consider the event a “bad omen.’’

“It’s an amazing, eerie experience,’’ she said. “The character of light changes.’’

The view resembled a “360 degree dawn.’’

Monday’s event may still resemble the afternoon but the viewing could still serve as a good reason for a party. Disco balls optional.