After searching the county for eclipse glasses, the promise of a free pair to watch Monday’s historic event was enough to bring a Center Grove couple to their local library.
Mary and Don Finley, who live in the Center Grove area, said they had looked across Johnson County for glasses, but every store they checked was sold out. When they heard that the library was giving away glasses, they knew that was where they needed to be if they wanted a chance to view the eclipse.
“I wanted to see if it will live up to the hype,” Don Finley said.
The Johnson County Public Library received about 1,000 glasses through a national grant, which were distributed to each of its locations. By 1:30 p.m. all the glasses had been given out, though with glasses being shared, there were enough for everyone to watch the eclipse.
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About 100 people came to the White River Township library branch’s solar eclipse viewing party, with many drawn in by the offer of free glasses. The library also offered snacks, pinhole projectors and a live-stream video of a NASA presentation about the eclipse. Linda Kilbert, the manager of the White River library branch, had also set up a pair of binoculars on a tripod to catch and display the shadow of the eclipse. With the binoculars pointed at the sun and a piece of cardboard covering all but one of the lenses, the sun and the shadow from the moon were displayed through the binoculars onto a white board.
Cindy and Roger Pridemore, of Greenwood, had both recently retired and were thinking of driving a few hours south and getting a hotel Sunday night so they could watch the full solar eclipse the next day. However, the best deal they could find was more than $300 for one night, so they decide to stay in Greenwood and hope to catch the eclipse when it crosses Johnson County in seven years.
The glasses were a novelty for many of the older viewers, who could recall times as kids when they made pinhole projectors. Being able to view the eclipse directly, even if through heavily shaded glasses, was an experience they were looking forwarded to, Cindy Pridemore said.
When the 2:25 p.m. mark finally hit, Tim Doyle, Amber Johns, and their daughter, Natalie Doyle, all had their eyes glued to the sky with their glasses on.
This was the first eclipse for all of them. Amber, an 11-year-old student at Pleasant Grove Elementary, had been allowed to take a half-day at school by her parents so she could get plenty of time to watch the eclipse.
Students from the nearby Center Grove Montessori School came over to the library as well to view the eclipse.
Their teacher, Melissa Plunkett, had used the weeks leading up to the eclipse as an opportunity to teach students about everything from astronomy to how their eyes process light, an important lesson given the risks in viewing a solar eclipse, she said.