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Families, school children gather at Norwalk reservoir to watch solar eclipse

By CARY ASHBY, ZOE GRESZLER and KARLEE STEFFANNI • Updated Aug 21, 2017 at 8:24 PM

Monday’s eclipse had small groups of people gathering all over the city to watch the sun fall into darkness — or at least 82.03 percent darkness.

Watch parties took place at the local library reservoir and Hunter's Glen condominium complex. Between those three locations, about 100 people equipped with special eclipse glasses over eager eyes enjoyed the celestial show.

Norwalk wasn’t on the path of a total eclipse. But, according to NASA, the city did see a 82.03-percent coverage by the moon during the peak time at 2:29 p.m.


At Hunter’s Glenn

“It’s a sign in the sky — God’s masterpiece,” said Norwalk’s Trish Oswald. “It just makes me think what an awesome God we have.”

Nancy O’Dell, 80, agreed. She remembers the last eclipse to be visible in the area, back when she was in grade school. However, Monday’s astrological events were more memorable for her, she said.

“It’s such an awesome phenomenon,” O’Dell said. “We didn’t want to miss it. The glasses are great; they really are. When I was in grade school, we made little boxes (to view it through). We didn’t have as good of glasses, so I think we’re getting it better now. And it’s interesting seeing it on the television. Out west, with the total eclipse, when you can see that diamond ring — that’s just awesome. That would be really exciting to see.”


At the reservoir

Luisa Lamb read a book which contained myths about solar eclipses. Then she saw the real thing Monday afternoon with about 50 people at Veterans Memorial Lake Park.

“People thought that a dragon took a bite from the sun,” said Lamb, the 6-year-old daughter of David and Tiffany.

She and several other home-schooled children used homemade viewers and specialized glasses to watch the eclipse safely. There were several groups stationed near the large pavilion at the south entrance of the Norwalk reservoir.

The students and their parents used cereal boxes to safely look at the sun. The boxes had 2-inch holes on the bottom. The right hole was covered with aluminum foil which had a hole. Seeing the eclipse required looking in the left hole, which was open, and moving the cereal box until the eclipse was visible at the bottom of the box.

“Ashley (Jackson) found it online and shared it with us,” said Tiffany Lamb, who believes once you used the cereal box a few times it was easy. “You’re just capturing the shadow. You see a white cloud with a black shadow.”

By about 1:20 p.m., Lamb said three-quarters of the sun was covered.

“(There’s) just a little bit on the right side,” she added.

Her husband David said he “didn’t have any problem with the box method” to see the eclipse, but using Pringles cans was a different story.

“The Pringles method didn’t work at all,” he added.

Sisters Lainie and Elyse Sopa sat on the top of the cab of a pickup truck to watch the eclipse. They arrived at the reservoir about 1 p.m. with family members.

“You could see just a little small chunk of it,” said Elyse, 22, of Bowling Green.

In about another 25 minutes, the solar eclipse was as full as it would be in the Norwalk area.

“Right now it’s almost there,” said Lainie, 17, of Chapel Hill, N.C. “There’s a pretty big difference.”

When the sisters arrived at the reservoir, it was warm. But the temperature dropped closer to the time of the eclipse.

“It was really warm and humid when we got here,” said Elyse, who equated the lower temperature with standing in the shade. “It could have been from the clouds.”


At the library

The Norwalk Public Library held its viewing party for the solar eclipse Monday afternoon.

Several groups of people were gathered on the front steps to watch the event, but more than half of them didn’t have protective eyewear. 

Dan Brown, of Norwalk, said he came to the event hoping there would be a few extra glasses, but the library had already run out. A few people had regular sunglasses on, and others attempted to take photos with cameras or mobile phones.

Ken Svitak, of Norwalk, was prepared for the shortage of protective eyewear. He had purchased welding glass and created his own protective viewing lens, which he happily passed around to everyone without glasses. 

Svitak said he had seen a solar eclipse before “in the 60s.” At the time, he said he was working at a steel mill and he remembered other people looking up at the sky using welding glasses. 

“I couldn’t get glasses, so that’s why I bought this,” Svitak said.

Brown said he was curious as to whether the eclipse glasses were even necessary. He added, “I heard (the sun) is no brighter today than any other day.” 

This topic was a popular one throughout the nation. An article from The Washington Post addresses the issue and suggests the protective eyewear was necessary — especially if you planned on looking directly at the sun.

Sveta Kavali, an ophthalmologist and retina specialist at Saint Louis University, told The Post: “Staring at the sun can cause a condition called solar retinopathy, which leads to a decrease or a distortion of a person's central vision.” 

The article also stated the damage is “typically irreversible.” 

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