CRANFORD, NJ – Approximately 1,000 people gathered at Sherman Field on Monday to watch a rare solar eclipse.
The solar eclipse celebration was sponsored by the Cranford Public Library, who held the event as a culmination of its young astronomer’s program. The program was funded by STAR Library Network grant, which promotes STEM learning in libraries.
“We had 200 solar eclipse glasses to give out,” children’s librarian Lauren Antolino said. “They were gone in less than 10 minutes.”
Also at the celebration was astronomer John Sichel, corresponding secretary of Amateur Astronomers Incorporated. Sichel brought a special telescope with him that allowed both adults and children to safely view the partial eclipse.
“To me, this is something more real and bigger than things people normally worry about in life,” Sichel said. It’s amazing.”
The August 21 solar eclipse was a rare occurrence. Although only certain parts of the country experience a total eclipse, a degree of the eclipse was visible in every state. In New Jersey, the eclipse reached 77 percent totality at approximately 2:40 p.m.
“Nature in any form is amazing,” Sichel said. “Think of it like a giant machine that only lines up once every couple years.”
Although most residents were looking for the eclipse though special glasses and tools made from shoeboxes or mirrors, the library also provided astronomy-related crafts for smaller kids to enjoy.
“Some people are disappointed not to glasses, but everyone is very kind and sharing,” Antolino said. “It’s so nice to see the community come together like this and I’m glad we could facilitate it.”
The last time the country saw a national eclipse was in 1979. The next one will occur on April 8, 2024.