Eclipse-mania hits South Texas, Libraries host viewing groups

Next Monday, August 21, thousands, maybe even millions, of people will be staring up at the sun. If you plan to be one of them, be prepared and learn how to do it safely.

The McAllen Public Library and other libraries across the region will have special viewing glasses that will allow a person to safely view the eclipse. Regular sunglasses and smoked glass will not offer any protection when viewing the sun and may lead to serious eye damage or even blindness. The STAR_Net Project made the approved solar viewing glasses available through an award.

Many local retailers are also selling the glasses. Roberto Zapata, Assistant Director of Public Services for the McAllen Public Library, advised the public to be careful about which glasses they use. Buyers should look for an ISO 12312-2 international safety standard label and should be aware of counterfeit items.

The McAllen libraries will be hosting a series of programs this week and next Monday to celebrate the Great American Eclipse. McAllen and surrounding areas will experience a partial solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st with 50% to 60% coverage.

“With a fifty to sixty percent solar eclipse, it won’t get completely dark here,” explained Roberto Zapata, Assistant Director of Public Services for the McAllen Public Library. “It will look like it would on a cloudy day. The sun won’t be as bright, but it won’t look completely dark.”

Events are planned at all library locations to inform families about the eclipse through fun STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) activities and storytimes. The series will culminate with an Eclipse Viewing Party at the Main Library on August 21st from 12:00-2:00 PM. All programs in this series will offer free solar eclipse viewing glasses while supplies last.

The Palm View Branch Library will host two programs for families. The first program, Mr. Sun Toddler Time on Tuesday, August 15th at 11:00 AM, will be an interactive storytime for children and their caregivers. The second program, Solar Eclipse Bilingual Storytime on Wednesday, August 16th at 6:00 PM, will be in English and Spanish with special songs, stories, and activities.

The Main Library will host three programs for families and teens. Night Sky Exploration for Teens on Wednesday, August 16th at 3:00 PM, will allow teens to explore the night sky and learn about the eclipse inside a portable planetarium. The Children’s Department will host a special STEAMboat program about the eclipse on Thursday, August 17th at 6:30 PM for children and families. Finally, a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party will be held on Monday, August 21st at 12:00 PM under the front canopy of the building. Participants will enjoy music, snacks, and activities while observing the eclipse safely with free solar viewing glasses.

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