Countdown to the Eclipse

partial solar eclipse nasa

Image credit: NASA

There is less than a week until the much-anticipated solar eclipse. While the path of totality will pass through 14 states, Charlottesville will experience a partial eclipse with about 86% of the sun covered. Here’s some information to help you make the most of your eclipse experience.

Eighty-six percent sounds dramatic. But that means 14 percent of the sun will still be visible. The sun is 400,000 times brighter than the full moon. So 14 percent of the sun is almost 60,000 times brighter than the full moon. In other words, the day will not get noticeably dark. The eclipse itself will take place slowly over the course of about 3 hours between 1:15 and 4:01 pm. At no time will it be safe to look directly at the sun without eye protection.

Eclipse glasses
Eclipse glasses are one way to view the eclipse, though care must be taken to use them properly. Use only glasses that you are certain came from a reputable source. High demand for glasses has encouraged widespread counterfeiting.  Parents should be aware that glasses may not be sized for young children and need to ensure that no part of the sun’s rays gets around the sides of the glasses. Children may also get impatient if they have difficulty viewing and may try to remove the glasses to see better. Careful monitoring of children is essential.

The Jefferson-Madison Regional Library does have limited numbers of safe eclipse glasses available for participants in eclipse-related programming. Most will be distributed after the speaker at the Central Eclipse Viewing Party beginning at 1:30 pm on Monday, August 21. Glasses are not being distributed outside of eclipse events. Search for the term eclipse on the JMRL web calendar to find events at a library location near you:

Pinhole viewers
Instructions for a variety of pinhole viewers and projectors are readily available. You can find ideas on the NASA eclipse website ( or on the Exploratorium’s website (

Live stream video
Both NASA and the Exploratorium will host live stream video of the eclipse.  NASA’s footage will be available at, the Exploratorium’s at

And of course, there’s an app for that! Check out the list on NASA’s website to find an app for your device to help enhance your eclipse experience:

Find out more about this eclipse and solar eclipses in general at

Snuggle Up for Early Literacy


Most people underestimate how early a child’s language development begins. Interactions with a child begin to impact language skills beginning not at 6 months, not at 3 months, but from the day the baby is born. That doesn’t mean you should try to recreate preschool in your home. Helping your child be ready to learn to read is as simple as Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing, and Playing!

JMRL’s Winter Reading Program is designed to help you do just that. Pick up a Winter Reading Activity Sheet at any JMRL location, or download it here: Activity Sheet. As you complete the fun activities, let your child color in the bunnies. When all 11 are complete, bring the sheet back to the library and your child can choose a free book. So brush off your memories of nursery rhymes and head to the library for some fun books to share. The program runs from February 1 to March 2 for ages birth to 5 years old.

For more early literacy activity ideas, check out the Family Literacy Calendar at DayByDayVA. Also, coming soon to JMRL – 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.


Weekend Reading – Something Outdoorsy

Outdoorsy BooksWhen you think of outdoorsy books for teens, is the first title that comes to mind the classic Hatchet by Gary Paulsen? Outdoorsy books can certainly be about wilderness survival. But they can also be so much more, from fantasy to murder mysteries to humor. Here are some titles you could read this weekend for the JMRL July Challenge of “Read something outdoorsy.”

Dan vs. Nature by Don Calame
Sent on a survivalist camping trip with his mom’s new fiance, all Dan wants to do is sabotage the trip and torment Hank to the breaking point. This book is for those who like their outdoors with heavy dose of teenage boy humor.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
The town of Fairfold lives in uneasy truce with the fae in the forest. The townspeople learn early how to protect themselves, but tourists aren’t so lucky. At the heart of the forest, a young man with horns and pointed ears sleeps in a glass coffin. Siblings Ben and Hazel both love the boy in the forest. When the coffin is broken and the boy disappears, it is up to them to find him and save the town. A must read for fans of tales of the dark fae.

After the Snow by S.D. Crockett
Set in a future Britain where climate changes have cause a steep drop in temperature, Willo Blake must set off through the snows to try to find his family. This book combines dystopian and post-apocalyptic themes with a good, old-fashioned survival story.

Peak by Roland Smith
Fourteen-year-old Peak is sent to live with his father who runs a climbing company in Thailand. He quickly learns that his dad has ambitious plans for him. He wants Peak to become the youngest person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. For a climbing addict, it’s the challenge of a lifetime, but one with significant dangers.

For more outdoorsy book options check out the JMRL Goodreads shelf: Outdoorsy Books for Teens