A third grade class at Northridge Elementary lined up along an outside wall, their faces down and their eyes on the pavement beneath their feet. They covered their eyes, and faces, with special glasses attached to paper plates.

 

At the prompting of their teacher, they looked up at a disappearing sun.

 

They let out a collecting “Whoa!” Exclamations of “that is is sooooo cool” burst forth. One could feel the excitiment as they viewed the 2017 solar eclipse.

 

Inside the schools other students were learning about the eclipse — what it was, and why it is such a big deal — or preparing for their own trip outside.

 

“Why is this such a big deal?” a teacher asked his classroom.

 

“Because it won't happen again for 100 years,” was the answer.

 

The teacher asked the student to add 100 to her current age, a teaching moment. He did not correct her on her eclipse knowledge — For the U.S., the next total solar eclipse will occur on April 8, 2024. The line of totality will cross from Texas, up through the Midwest, almost directly over Indianapolis, Cleveland and Buffalo, New York, up over New England and out over Maine and New Brunswick, Canada.

 

Meanwhile, more than 200 people showed up at Newton Public Library for an eclipse viewing. As part of a grant, the library had about 50 pairs of safety glasses to loan for viewing the eclipse.

 

“I expected fewer people because of school being in session, but I am pleasantly surprised,” said Nathan Carr, IT director at Newton Public Library. “People grouped together and shared the glasses a lot better than I had feared. It has been a really great experience.”

 

As people shared safety glasses while lounging on blankets and lawn chairs, they also were treated to a show put on by the trees by the library. Leaves acted as miniature pinhole cameras — projecting hundreds upon hundreds of eclipse images on the ground.

 

Susan Bartel, a member of library staff, used a colander normally reserved for straining water out of food as a pinhole camera — projecting dozens of eclipse images on a piece of material on the ground.

 

“I came here, because, well, it is the library. It is one of the staples in town,” said Stephanie Oswald, an eclipse viewer at the library party. “With the socialization, if it had not been for that, I would not have noticed the leaves acting as pinhole projectors. … I knew that the angle of the sun and moon would be so the crescent went from visually left to right, which is typical for the area.”