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Turlock solar eclipse party celebrates natural spectacle
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Brielle, 3, and Kevin Schmidt don their solar viewing glasses outside the Turlock Library for Monday’s eclipse (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

It may have only been a partial eclipse of the sun on Monday, but it was a total success for the Turlock Library’s viewing party.

The total solar eclipse — only about 40 percent visible from Stanislaus County — was the first since the fall of 2017. And there won’t be another visible in the contiguous United States until Aug. 22, 2044.

“I’ll be almost 30 then because I’m almost 10 now,” said Paige Evans, a third-grader at Hughson Elementary School who was at the Turlock Library with her grandmother Terri Bartgis in anticipation of the eclipse. “I like space and science and I like watching what happens. I think it will be orange and yellow, but kind of dark. But kind of light, too.”

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Jasmine McDaniel, 3, uses crayons to create her own vision of the eclipse as part of activities offered by the Modesto Children’s Museum at the Turlock eclipse viewing party outside the library on Monday (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

Stanislaus County Library partnered with Sutter Health and the Modesto Children’s Museum for viewing parties at all of the county’s public library branches, as well as at the Gallo Center for the Arts. About 10,000 pairs of special eclipse-viewing glasses were handed out to interested spectators.

“But it’s not just kids,” said Turlock children’s librarian Michelle Coxford. “So many adults are so into this. They may have come for the kids, but when the put on the glasses it was amazing. We’re all kids at heart.”

Some had it marked on their calendars, while others just happened to be in the neighborhood.

“I was just out on a walk and I ran into a friend who got her glasses here at the library,” said Turlock resident Rylee Welly. “And she encouraged me to stop by.”

Three-year-old Jasmine McDaniel seemed more interested in the other exhibits provided by the Modesto Children’s Museum.

“She just likes to watch fun stuff,” said her mother, Jolin Dhillon as Jasmine used crayons to create her vision of the eclipse. “We try to introduce scientific concepts to her, and this is an opportunity to watch something that’s happening out the in the natural world. And they have fun activities here.”

In addition to being able to pick up a free pair of eclipse-viewing glasses, kids could color, play with construction straws (less-lethal Tinkertoys) and create Alka-Seltzer “rockets.” But, of course, the main attraction was the sun and the moon, working in concert to perform a unique viewing event.

Some parts of the U.S., along a semi-arching path from San Antonio to Indianapolis to Cleveland to Buffalo, N.Y., were in the direct focused shadow of the moon, called the umbra. Those places experienced the eclipse in totality, when the moon appears to completely cover the sun.

“We thought it would be a cool experience if people could relate the eclipse to the library and to the children’s museum,” said Coxford. “And when the next one comes around, some of these kids might have families of their own, and they might search out a community event just like this one.”

Right now, through the end of the month, donations made to the Modesto Children’s Museum — 928 11th St. — will be matched by the Costa Family Foundation. You can donate by visiting