A Guest Post by Dr. Andrew Fraknoi (Chair, Astronomy Department, Foothill College)

On Monday, August 21, 2017, there will be an eclipse of the Sun visible from all of North America. People in a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina will see a spectacular total eclipse, with the Moon briefly covering the Sun, and day turning into night. Everyone else (an estimated 500 million people) will see a partial eclipse, where the Moon covers a good part of the Sun. Special glasses – or indirect techniques to view the Sun – are needed to look at the Sun safely during a partial eclipse (sunglasses are NOT enough).

This is the first total eclipse to cross the entire U.S. since 1918 and is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors into the total eclipse path and to be widely discussed on social and mainstream media throughout the country.

Thanks to the generosity of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Research Corporation and Google, 2 million pairs of eclipse glasses will be distributed free through public libraries in anticipation of the August eclipse. More than 2,000 public libraries will receive a package of free glasses, plus an illustrated booklet of eclipse background information and public outreach ideas. Libraries interested in participating can learn more about the project and fill out an application at the website of the STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net) at the Space Science Institute: https://www.starnetlibraries.org/2017eclipse/.

Astronomers, astronomy hobbyists, science teachers, and others with eclipse expertise will be available to help local libraries in the weeks leading up to the eclipse to get accurate information about the science of eclipses and safe viewing methods out to the public.