Total Eclipse of the Library

Stages of an eclipse

On Monday, August 21, 2017, a solar eclipse will be visible in most of the United States.  A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth and blocks all or part of the sun.  While Massachusetts is not in the “path of totality,” Somerville residents should be able to see a partial eclipse -- as long as the weather cooperates!

The eclipse will begin around 1:30 PM and last until approximately 4:00 PM.  It will peak in Somerville around 2:45 PM, when about 63% of the sun will be covered by the moon.

Graph of a solar eclipse

Ancient records indicate that people have been aware of eclipses for thousands of years, and folktales show how different cultures have interpreted eclipses.  Today, scientists have a great understanding of eclipses, can predict them far in advance, and have experiments and observations planned for August 21.  Whether you’re interested in science or legends, the eclipse is an amazing phenomenon to learn about and observe firsthand.

It is never safe to look directly at the sun during an eclipse; you could seriously damage your eyes.  The Somerville Public Library will have a limited number of eclipse glasses available for use at the West Branch Library during the eclipse. Only glasses that are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard are safe for use during an eclipse.  You can also stop into the West Branch August 16-18 and the Central Library on August 16 and 18 to make a pinhole viewer.*

Eclipse Glasses

If you miss the eclipse, you can watch a NOVA special that night at 9 PM!  NASA will also live stream the eclipse throughout the day, and PBS and NOVA will share content live on Facebook.  

Looking for a place to view the eclipse with others? Join us!

  • What: Eclipse Party!  Join us to watch the solar eclipse.  We’ll have snacks including moon cookies and sun chips.
  • When: Monday, August 21, 2017, 1:30 PM - 4:00 PM
  • Where: West Branch Library, 40 College Ave, Somerville (behind the library)
  • Who: All are welcome!  A limited number of eclipse glasses will be distributed on a first come, first served basis at the event.

For more information about the event, call Alison at 617-623-5000 ext. 2977.

Images from

*Please bring your own empty cereal box with you if possible. Some cereal boxes are available at the West Branch and Central Libraries, but supply is limited.

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