Want to see a near-total solar eclipse? Chester County is planning a day of events in Hibernia County Park

Chester County, like much of Pennsylvania, will experience 90% totality during the solar eclipse on April 8.

A total solar eclipse

A total solar eclipse is visible through the clouds as seen from Vagar on the Faeroe Islands, Friday, March 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Eric Adams)

What you need to know

When the moon passes between Earth and the sun on April 8, Chester County officials want Hibernia County Park in Coatesville to be the destination for people to watch the total — well, near total — solar eclipse.

The Chester County Library System and the county’s Department of Parks and Preservation are teaming up with the Chester County Astronomical Society and Timmy Telescope Solar Astronomy Education for the eclipse viewing event.

“We’re running our program from the time that eclipse starts until the time it is over,” said Pam Marquette, program coordinator for the Chester County Library System.

A total solar eclipse is when the moon completely covers the sun. When this happens, the sky dims as if it’s dusk or early morning and a faint halo of sunlight appears behind the moon’s shadow.

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“People’s lights will come on — photosensors, animals will act like it’s twilight and the temperature will drop because the sun will be blocked out,” said Roger Kennedy, a member of the Chester County Astronomical Society.

It can only be seen from a specific path of locations. During the April 8 eclipse, parts of the United States will fall within the path of totality. However, Chester County, like much of Pennsylvania, will experience 90% totality.

From 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on April 8, Hibernia Park will host a slew of activities, including the GLOBE Observer data collection program and sun salutation and moon salutation yoga practices.

Marquette said they will have telescopes with solar filters at the event for people to view the sun through the telescopes while the eclipse is unfolding.

“People can come and pick up a solar eclipse log so they can keep track of the eclipse as it’s happening,” Marquette said. “There’ll be coloring sheets for kids. They’ll be able to make an eclipse model.”

Or, people can just sit back and watch the sun with a pair of solar observation glasses. The event is free. Registration is not required, but recommended. There will only be a limited number of solar observation glasses.

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Kennedy, a retired NASA astronomer who runs a space education program with his wife, will bring two telescopes, a spectroscope, a projector and a monitor to help people see with their own eyes. He says at least 700 people have expressed interest in attending.

“It goes by so quickly, the general public should just enjoy it,” Kennedy said. “Get the glasses and watch what’s going on or make a pinhole camera, but get immersed in it.”

On Thursday, April 4, Donald Miller, a local solar system ambassador for NASA, will host an event at the Chester County Library in Exton about solar eclipse safety.

Event planners for the near-total eclipse urge attendees to bring something to sit on, dress appropriately — and hope that the weather plays nice.

“Just have everybody cross their fingers for clear skies on Monday,” Marquette said. “That’s the biggest unknown.”

This will be the final total solar eclipse visible from the mainland of the United States until 2044.

“For some people, like me, we probably won’t get to see that one,” Kennedy said. “So they’re kind of rare — go out and enjoy it.”

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