Witnessing the solar eclipse

Abigail Lozier, 6, and Tyler Lozier, 10, both of Palatine Bridge, look at the sun while laying on the lawn at Arkell Museum and Canajoharie Library Monday. (The Leader-Herald/Patricia Older)

CANAJOHARIE — It turned out to be a spectacular day for an eclipse and for Arkell Museum and Canajoharie Library, the turn out for their Experience the Eclipse event Monday almost eclipsed the eclipse itself.

With dozens of children playing under the clear skies, running along the grass, tumbling down gentle slopes and viewing the eclipse through special glasses it seemed like a family reunion of sorts.

“It has been a spectacular turn out,” said Sue Friedlander, acting director and chief curator of the museum. “There were well over 100 children and look at that green space — it’s a great place to hang out.”

Participants were able to go to the museum on Monday starting at 1:30 p.m. —a day it is usually closed — and make pinhole viewers, listen to books being read about eclipses and view artwork involving the moon, sun and stars.

“We are going to read some stories, look at artwork and then go outside and look at the sun,” said Hanna Conbeer, library director as the filled room buzzed with excitement.

The museum and library provided the special NASA-graded viewers for the eclipse.

“I am so thrilled to watch such an incredible event,” said Xrystya Szyjka of Amsterdam, who had come to the viewing with her sister, Olya, also of Amsterdam.

Gloversville resident Tracy Mortzheim, along with husband Jason, and children Julian and Genevieve, said she had tried without success to purchase the viewing glasses and an Internet search brought up the Arkell Museum event.

“I was Internet searching until 2 a.m. [Monday morning],” said Mortzheim. “And I sent an email at 2 a.m. and Jenna [Peterson-Riley, museum curator of education and public engagement] was great about getting back to us.”

The family was just finishing up their pinhole viewers and were heading outside to see the solar eclipse.

Destiny Stewart, 15, a junior docent at the library, was in awe of the moon moving in front of the sun as she peered skyward through the glasses.

“It looks just like an orange crescent moon,” she said.

Devin Eichinger, 14, of Gloversville thought the view of the moon eclipsing the sun was “crazy.”

Marie LaPlant had prepared her children ahead of the solar event, first attending an educational program at the Frothingham Free Library in Fonda.

“We did the program at the Fonda library and the kids were able to learn about the eclipse and try on the glasses there, so we had an idea of what to expect,” LaPlant said as she attempted to snap photos of the eclipse using the glasses and her cell phone camera so her husband, who was unable to make the event, could get an idea of what it looked like. “I am amazed at how it looks.”

Some people found the camaraderie of the event especially inviting.

“It is amazing, especially with everyone around,” said Jessica Lozier as kids rolled down the gentle slope of the museum’s greenspace and played tag.

“Turns out, a lot of people we already know are here,” said 7-year-old Aiden Glode of Fonda.

While the sky never really darken, the light did become softer as the moon moved more in front of the sun, appearing as an orange crescent through the viewers.

“I am really happy we got to be here,” said Ashley Glode, 10, of Fonda. “We saw the library was doing this and we’re very grateful to the library for doing it. It is awesome.”

By Patricia Older

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