Read Us Daily for News in Prince William, Manassas, & Stafford

Solar eclipse fans flock to Prince William libraries


WOODBRIDGE — The line formed about 6 a.m. Monday.

Hundreds of people stood outside the Potomac Community Library in Woodbridge for to snag one of 600 pairs of solar glasses to view the “Great American Solar Eclipse.”

The line stretched from the parking lot, up Opitz Boulevard, nearly to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. Employees at the library distributed the glasses at 10 a.m. for a solar eclipse viewing party at 2 p.m.

“This was an exciting day,” said Prince William County Public Library spokesman Andrew Spence. “All six of our community libraries had solar eclipse activities happening.”

In addition to turning their heads to the sky when the earth’s shadow covered about 80% of the sun over Woodbridge, patrons learned about the science of a solar eclipse, name solar eclipse models, and from inside the building watched a NASA live video stream of the celestial event happening in real time.

At the Bull Run Regional Library near Manassas, eclipse mania took hold there, too, when 200 pairs of solar glasses were distributed.

The county library system received 2,000 pairs of solar glasses through NASA and the Google Science Foundation on Aug. 1. They were a hit with county residents who began calling earlier this summer to see if they could grab a pair.

Central Library outside Manassas scored 1,500 solar glasses — the most of any Prince William County library — and gave them all away within a day and a half just after the first of the month.

Chinn Park Regional Library gave away 600 pairs on Aug. 14. A pre-solar eclipse viewing party held at the library on August 18, featuring a talk from an engineer about the eclipse, drew a large, excited crowd, said Spence.

The path of totality, where the moon completely covered the sun, and its shadow darkened the skies, did not pass through Virginia. About 80% of the sun was covered for viewers in our region.

The eclipse began at 1:17 p.m. in our area and the sun reached its most covered stage at 2:42 p.m. The eclipse ended as the moon’s shadow left South Carolina at 4:09 p.m.

While solar eclipses are not uncommon, today’s eclipse was the first to transit the entire U.S., from west to east, in 99 years. The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. that will be visible from Texas to Maine is seven years away.

The Prince William library will be ready.

“We’re used to having people interested in what we’re doing, and we’re already booking for 2024, so we can play a part in the next solar eclipse,” said Spence.

Photos by: Candi Johnson

Send news and photos to Potomac Local
  • tbornottb

    We live on Minnieville West and saw 25% and then clouds and thunderstorm ruined the rest of it. We were so upset.

A word from our sponsors...