Eclipse Viewing Party 2017 – The Long Version

1) Here in Ann Arbor, 82% of Sun coverage, attendance was estimated by the library to be between 2,500 and 3,000 based on door count and that people walked away after glasses were handed out.

I was still able to do the yard stick eclipse demo a few times, when there weren’t people lined up to borrow my glasses for a moment or to ask questions.

2) The best part, for me, was watching the faces of people light up and listening to their reactions when I gave them my eclipse glasses to look at the Sun for a moment. From young to old, the reaction was almost always the same. Amazement, exclamations (of varying strengths), and joy. :D I especially remember one elderly woman, just so moved by the experience. And later one teen-aged boy with that face of disdain at being dragged around by his Mom to something he didn’t care about. After his Mom looked through my glasses, she made him take them. The way his face morphed from teenage contempt, to shock and awe, and then to a smile – he even laughed! – was just so wonderful to witness.

3) Seeing the glowing gold eclipsed Sun with my own eyes… priceless.

4) Lots of people has questions for me – from Eclipse related to how can they learn more to where I was from, worked, or went to school – which I answered to the best of my ability. I twice told people about the applying for the SSA program in September. One man was so elated to meet an event host who knew what he was talking about when he mentioned the EM drive, so we discussed that for a short while. One parent told me her child only wanted to come because someone from NASA was going to be here. Three people asked for pictures with me, which I happily did. Two people wanted handouts to take back to their classes. I gave away hundreds of the left over Cassini photo of Saturn eclipsing the Sun stickers I had left over from my June event. One man did not speak English as a first language, he tried very hard to understand my answers to his technical questions, then he would repeat back to me in his own words. Only once did I have to correct him and explain a different way. Once he got done with all his questions, he took one of my yard stick eclipse demos and did the demo for me to make sure he understood it. Then he asked if he could do the demo for the children coming up wanting to see it. I said yes, and thank you! It freed me up to be able to monitor the glasses use and answer questions! I did get two of “those guys”, those who just won’t stop talking. One eventually left after I started debunking his stories about eclipses not being significant to science. The other (who was the one who brought up the EM drive) stayed until the end, literally the library staff took the table out from between the two of us and then told him I had to leave to get my kids. He was nice enough, he did not complain when I would break the conversation and let others ask questions, but I couldn’t find a nice way to ask him to go.

5) The worst part for me was the heat and dehydration. Thankfully the library staff member assigned to help me found a handful of water bottles for me!

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