Gilroy students won’t be allowed out for eclipse

LUNAR SHADOW Local schools and Gilroy Library take precautions to safely watch the much anticipated celestial event.

Without proper safety equipment for its entire student body, the Gilroy Unified School District will provide a live stream from NASA of the once-in-a-century solar eclipse Monday, while keeping students safely protected in their classrooms.
The Gilroy Library, however, has passed out 800 pairs of safety eye glasses and will have a viewing party.
 Gilroy residents will experience a 75 percent darkening of the sun beginning at 9:06 a.m., peaking at 10:19 a.m. and ending at 11:41 a.m.
GUSD officials said their top priority is to protect students from eye injury from viewing the sun’s rays without proper protection.  
Looking at the eclipse directly is akin to taking a magnifying glass to the sun and can leave eyes severely damaged. With no pain sensors in the eye, people are unaware it’s happening until it’s too late.
“The solar eclipse is an incredible astronomical event and a great opportunity for our students to learn many scientific concepts,” said Superintendent Deborah Flores in the press release. “We are pleased to be able to provide them with the opportunity to experience the solar eclipse in a safe manner.”
Kelly Brennan Young, supervising librarian of adult and teen services with Gilroy Library says she’s been planning for the event since fall of 2016.
“Over the course of the past month we will have given out 1,000 eclipse glasses to the community—ours were provided by Starnet,” said Young. “I applied for this back in October, so it’s been in the works for a long time. It was a great opportunity for us to get the glasses for free.”
Young said the program was a national event that was part of the STAR Library Education Network. “They sent us 1,000 glasses free,” she said.
Gilroy Library held a number of events in preparation for the eclipse including a special eclipse story time, and an eclipse craft for kids. A meteorology instructor from Gavilan, Dr. Andrew Van Tuyl conducted an Eclipse Seminar earlier in the month, and the library held a family-friendly presentation by NASA Senior Scientist Elizabeth Keller on the rare occurrence.
“The day of the eclipse at 10 a.m. we are going to be having a small viewing party,” said Young. “We have given out probably 800 eclipse glasses. And we have a small amount set aside for the viewing on Monday at 10 a.m.”
Though they may not have enough protective gear for everyone, Young said there are still safe ways to view the eclipse.
“We do have a bookmark that we’ve been giving out,” she said. “It’s kind of a fun craft to do with kids. It’s called the pinpoint and you look at the shadow. It’s a safe way to view the eclipse. And it’s a fun way to get kids involved.”
Home viewers can place a pinhole in a piece of paper or card stock to safely view the eclipse. With the sun behind them, viewers holding the paper/card stock can see the shadow of the eclipse on the ground, wall or another piece of paper as a projection.
Young said she encourages people to take advantage of the educational opportunities and resources the library provides.
The Gilroy Library also conducted a poetry writing event, inviting creative writers to create eclipse poetry.
“We have these little books of eclipse poetry by local writers that we’ve been giving out as well.”
It’s difficult to tell if the weather will be cloudy, but Young said if the skies clear she expects a fun time and a full crowd.
“I think it’s exciting,” said Young. “It’s gotten a lot of people excited about astronomy and kind of taking a look at the night sky. I am hoping people will take a little more of an opportunity to learn about astronomy.”