SANDWICH – The glasses were like gold.
The Heritage Museums and Gardens hosted a couple thousand people for the Solar Eclipse of 2017 yesterday.
If you weren’t one of the early comers, the first few hundred people in line when the museum opened at 10am, you missed out on getting your special solar filter eclipse glasses.
Made mostly of paper with a heavy duty dark lens taped on, they didn’t look like much. But for a few hours yesterday, if you had the glasses, you were the envy of everyone.
There were other ways to see the eclipse, and Heritage museum staffers were happy to help people construct pinhole boxes, paper reflections, any number of clever creations.
But nothing beat the glasses for seeing the eclipse.
The hundreds of children at the event, running, jumping and playing with all manner of old-fashioned games at the Parade Field, the most popular of the museum’s many outdoor lawn areas during the special eclipse event, seemed to enjoy every bit of it, even the science lessons, as parents tried to slip some happening-right-now astronomy into a day of serous play.
Heritage was one of the few places on Cape Cod offering a special event for the eclipse.
Heritage Museum Director Ellen Spear estimated that more than 2,000 people attended the event. Not the museum’s biggest day of the year—that is the Free Fun Friday event coming up this Friday, August 25, which, Spear said, has attracted more like 4,000 people.
But the eclipse crowd were all paying guests. Even museum members had to pay the $18 admissions fee for adults ($8 for kids 3 to 11).
Though the glasses ran out by about 10:45am, people continued to come to Heritage throughout the morning and afternoon, filling up every parking space available and even then those unavailable, like beside the cemetery.
Spear said they knew that the crowd would be big in the days leading up to the event as they began to get 50 calls a day about it. “We got glasses from wherever we could get them,” she said, as she demonstrated how to use two pieces of paper to chart the movement of the moon across the sun.
Museum also made plans to add a musician, among other last minute additions to the event, she said, as they realized the crowd would be massive.
Because there were not enough glasses to go around, a spirit of sharing was in the air. If you had glasses, people asked to borrow them and, for the most part, the request was granted. People were also lending pinhole boxes and other contraptions to help people see the eclipse.
If some felt stingy about lending their glasses as the eclipse was underway, it seemed understandable. After all, the eclipse was happening right then and there and the glasses were the necessary tools for best viewing.
Looking up at the sun and seeing the moon pass in front of it was indeed a magical sight. It was fun listening to parents try to explain it to their children.
And then, suddenly, it was over and the glasses were no longer needed. The moon was partially blocking the sun and people were leaving. That’s when people started getting really generous with the glasses. In the snack line, a couple of teenaged girls gave their eclipse glasses to an older woman who had missed out. As they held her place in line, she ran out of the cafe tent to take a look at the sky. She returned, suitably impressed.
Someone said they heard the glasses are no good after three years. That means when the next solar eclipse comes around in 2024, you will need new glasses. And you may as well get your tickets to Heritage Museum and Gardens now. Plan to get there early. It is clearly the place to be for an eclipse.
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