Dozens of people are funneling into the community room at the library. Some sit down in chairs and others stand at the back.
At the front on the wall is a large screen. NASA is sharing live coverage of the eclipse from balloons their teams are raising into the atmosphere all over the country.
The internet stream is working well most of the time.
During a short break in coverage Sunny Rice gives an update to the crowd. She’s helping coordinate the local viewing event.When the eclipse is full the chatter in the room dies down as everyone focuses on the screen in front of them. A large dark circle—the moon– is ringed by bright white—the sun.
The video also shows a view of the eclipse from space showing the moon as a tiny dot in front of the sun.
After the main event, people stand around talking about the eclipse. I spoke with some of them, starting with Petersburg resident, Christine Sargent.
“It’s great that the library did this streaming so we can see the photos and the streaming from Oregon,” Sargent said. “I remember one when I was in grade school that came through and I think it was just a partial eclipse but I remember it being a big deal then and we all sort of made the glasses and went out in the parking lot in school and watched it.”
James Baker says he has seen an eclipse back in 1959.
“When I was six years old. And it’s nothing like this. This is awesome,” Baker said. “And it’s really nice of the library to do this. So thanks to the library. I hope people in the world get to see this all day maybe it will give them something good to think about.”
While some people have distant memories of previous eclipses, for others it is their first time, like 10-year-old Sean Toth.
“It was pretty cool,” Toth said. “The live stream, it’s like the first time we ever saw the eclipse. And we noticed that it was getting darker at the sky when the eclipse was happening on the live streams.”
After most of the crowd has dispersed, Librarian, Chris Weiss, starts putting away the chairs.
“Oh, it was great,” she said. “I think we had over 80 people here and that was just so fantastic that everybody wanted to come together to see this,” Weiss said. “Luckily, just recently, we got an upgrade to our internet access. I’m not sure how this would have gone if we had our old access. So we were really happy to be able to provide this service. Even with a few hiccups we had but when you consider everybody around the world is probably logging into this site to watch the eclipse, it went very well.”
The local eclipse viewing event was sponsored by the Petersburg Marine Advisory Program, Marine Mammal Center and the Public Library.
The next total solar eclipse in American will be visible in seven years, in 2024.