Space Science Institute To Provide Libraries With More Than A Million Solar Viewing Glasses For 2017 Eclipse

December 16, 2016 – Boulder, Colorado’s Space Science Institute (SSI) was awarded a grant from the Moore Foundation that will provide 1.26 million solar viewing glasses and other resources for 1,500 public libraries across the nation. They will serve as centers for eclipse education and viewing for their communities.

The libraries will be selected through a registration process managed by the STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net) and its NASA@ My Library project. The project team includes staff at SSI’s National Center for Interactive Learning. The Project Director is Dr. Paul Dusenbery (Director of NCIL). Andrew Fraknoi (Chair of the Astronomy Department, Foothill College), Dennis Schatz (Senior Advisor, Pacific Science Center), and Douglas Duncan (Director of the University of Colorado’s Fiske Planetarium) are co-directors.

On August 21, 2017, a spectacular total eclipse of the Sun will be visible across the width of the continental U.S. for the first time since 1918. Every state will have at least 60% of the Sun covered by the Moon, and lucky people on a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina will see the stunning beauty of totality. Because the total eclipse is only visible in the U.S., it is already being called the Great American Eclipse.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for libraries and their communities to work together to participate in a celestial event of this scope,” said Project Director Paul Dusenbery. “Many organizations like NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the American Astronomical Society, are working together to help people understand and view the eclipse safely, and we are delighted to be part of this important educational effort.”

Dr. Robert Kirshner, Chief Program Officer, Science at the Moore Foundation, added, “The Moore Foundation is pleased to help two million eyes enjoy and understand this astronomical spectacle with astronomical spectacles.”

Libraries across the country have been reimagining their community role to strengthen community-based learning and foster critical thinking, problem solving, and engagement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Public libraries serve people of all races, ages, and socio-economic backgrounds. They are becoming “on-ramps” to STEM learning by creating environments that welcome newcomers to the community.

The Moore Foundation project and NASA@ My Library leverage and expand upon STAR_Net, a hands-on learning network for libraries and their communities across the country.

STAR_Net focuses on helping library professionals build their STEM skills by providing “science-technology activities and resources” (STAR) and training to use those resources. It includes a STEM Activity Clearinghouse, blogs, a webinar series, workshops at conferences, and a monthly e-newsletter. Partners include the American Library Association, Association of Rural and Small Libraries, Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, Afterschool Alliance, Cornerstones of Science, and many others.