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The Woods Hole Public Library is preparing for the upcoming solar eclipse with a screening of an educational program created by San Francisco’s Exploratorium. North America is currently experiencing an exciting time for eclipse activity, with an annular eclipse that was visible over the western part of the United States this past October, and a total solar eclipse that will traverse the country from Texas to Maine on Monday, April 8. 

A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun. People viewing the eclipse from locations where the Moon’s shadow completely covers the Sun – known as the path of totality – will experience a total solar eclipse. The sky will darken, as if it were dawn or dusk. Weather permitting, people along the path of totality will see the Sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, which is usually obscured by the bright face of the Sun. The eclipse on April 8 will be the last total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States until 2044. Here on Cape Cod, we will see a partial eclipse, with around 90% of the sun covered by the moon. 

In October 2023, an annular eclipse was visible in the western part of the United States. In an annular eclipse, the outer rim of the sun is still visible because the moon is further away from the earth in its orbit. The Exploratorium broadcast live during the annular eclipse from Valley of the Gods, Utah. This beautiful location is on Navajo land, and the Exploratorium used the occasion to highlight Indigenous practices and traditions that surround eclipses. The educational program also features NASA scientists who share what they are looking for during an eclipse and how these special occurrences can help further their scientific understanding.

The Woods Hole Public Library will host two screenings of this fascinating program – first on Monday, April 1, at 6:30 pm, and again on Wednesday, April 3, at 4:30 pm. Participants will have the opportunity to learn not only the basics of what makes an eclipse occur but also how an eclipse event plays a role in an Indigenous worldview. For the Navajo, eclipses are a time of renewal and contemplation, and understanding this philosophy can help us deepen and appreciate our experience of the upcoming eclipse in our area.

The Library will distribute eclipse glasses at both programs as supplies last, so that eager eclipse viewers can participate in this exciting event safely on April 8.