Eclipse Gatherings Shine Across Cape Cod

SANDWICH – All across the United States yesterday, millions of Americans gathered outside for the first total eclipse visible from the continental U.S. in the last 99 years.

Even though the Cape fell outside of the “Band of Totality” for optimal viewing, thousands turned out at Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich to take part in the rare event.

Scientist Gil Newton answers questions about yesterday’s eclipse

And there was much more to do at Heritage than just stare at the sun. The first several hundred visitors were treated to a free pair of safe eclipse viewing glasses, many other adults and children made their own pinhole projectors, or played a number of games available on the huge fields at the gardens.

“We are about helping families rediscover the joy of being outside together,” said Ellen Spear, President and CEO of Heritage Museums and Gardens.

“So for something that happens so infrequently what a great place to be together in nature, we have wonderful fields, we have trees that filter the light, so we have all of the natural things that help you enjoy the eclipse,” she said.

As families and individuals waited for the eclipse to come, many explored Heritage’s acres of impeccable gardens, rode their antique carrousel, or toured their collection of classic cars.

There was moon, and sun, themed food to eat, a musician playing moon and sun themed songs (think ‘here comes the sun’, ‘bad mood rising’).

Visitors to Heritage enjoy their picnics in the shade prior to the eclipse

Local scientist and recently retired director of the STEM Academy in Sandwich, Gil Newton, made the rounds as well answering numerous questions. His presence was one of the highlights with younger participants as he patiently answered the same questions over and over again, while reminding everyone to please not stare directly into the sun.

“I always take opportunities like this if I can help young people understand science and get them excited about something exciting in the natural environment so it’s my pleasure to be here today to work with all these great people,” said Newton,

“All over the nation I eclipse fever has taken hold and it’s great to see so many people coming out here today it’s between 1500 and 2000 people and they’ve asked me a lot of great questions and that’s a lot of curiosity and that’s really special for young people, that’s the direction we have to go in we have to get them interested in their environment and interested in science for the future.”

Visitors to yesterday’s Eclipse Party at Heritage test out their Pinhole Projectors

Elsewhere on Cape, the Marconi Maritime Center in Chatham hosted a presentation on the eclipse with Larry Bookhart, director of the Harwich Observatory.

The Cape Cod National Seashore held a viewing event at the Salt Pond Visitors Center with rangers to discuss the eclipse. The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association hosted residents and visitors for a free eclipse party at their Vestal Street observatory.

Still other viewing events took place at the Werner-Schmidt Observatory at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School and the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster.


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