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Solar Eclipse 2017

posted: , by Sarah Skawinski
tags: Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Science & Technology

Are you excited about the eclipse? So are we! Here is some information our librarians have put together to answer all of your eclipse-related questions. We hope that your viewing experience is safe and enjoyable!


A solar eclipse is a rare natural event caused when the moon passes between the sun and Earth. The moon temporarily blocks the sun from view either partially or totally, depending on where in the world it is observed. In Portland this summer, we will be able to see approximately a 58% eclipse at the maximum magnitude.


The 2017 eclipse will take place on Monday, August 21st. It is estimated to begin in Portland at 1:29pm and last until 3:57pm. The maximum eclipse is expected to occur at 2:45pm.


It will be visible in some form throughout much of North and Central America. The total eclipse will follow a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina.


It is never safe to look directly at the sun, even when it is partially eclipsed by the moon. The only safe way to look directly at the sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses.” Ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. You must be sure you are looking through authorized eclipse glasses that have been verified to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. Look for this symbol:


Using a welding mask or welding glasses to view the eclipse is only safe if they darken at shade #13 or above. Auto-darkening masks are not recommended as some older models may not darken as quickly as you need them to. Most welding lenses (masks, helmets, and goggles) start at a shade rating of #8 and can go up to #13 or above. To ensure complete safety, use lenses with a rating of #13 or above, which have been certified by the American National Standards Institute. To read more about these standards, click here.


If you were not able to get free eclipse glasses before supplies ran out, don’t panic! Here is a list of alternatives to safely viewing the eclipse.

Purchase ISO Certified Eclipse Glasses
You might still be able to find glasses available for purchase. Check this listing of reputable vendors compiled by the American Astronomical Society:

Make a Simple Pinhole Projector
You can make your own pinhole projector to indirectly view a projection of the eclipse – just like you did in 3rd grade! This video from NASA offers simple how-to instructions using a cereal box:

Make an Elaborate Pinhole Projector
Our friends at NPR created this how-to video that features a variety of DIY pinhole projectors. You could make a different one for each member of your family:

3D Pint a Pinhole Projector
Did you know that the library has a 3D printer that you can use? Our public computing staff has been having a lot of fun with these 3D pinhole projector designs from NASA:

Watch a Live-Video Stream
Experience the eclipse virtually by watching one of the livestreamed webcasts from’s curated list:


On April 8th, 2024, there will be a total solar eclipse visible from northern Maine.


Total Eclipse & Partial Eclipse

Depending on where you are when an eclipse happens, the moon might block out the entire sun or just part of it.

This is the thin ring of sunlight that remains visible around the moon during a total eclipse.

Umbra & Penumbra
The umbra is the darkest, fullest part of the moon’s shadow, as would be seen during a total eclipse. The penumbra is a partial shadow, as we will see during this year’s solar eclipse in Maine.


Norse Mythology

Hati the moon devourer and Skoll the sun devourer are the sons of Fenrir and Gulveig-Hoder. These two sons are actually giant wolves who guard the forest where the sun and moon sleep. Skoll chases the sun across the sky and into the sacred forest. Sometimes he catches it and devours it – temporarily.

Hindu Mythology
Svarbhanu is a demon who hides the sun. His downfall is caused by Indra, the king of heaven, who manages to replace the sun in the sky.

Other Customs
The ancient Chinese banged pots and drums to try and scare away the dragon who was devouring the sun. The ancient Peruvians shot arrows into the sky to fend off the beast which was attacking the sun.


Here are some websites that offer a wealth of reliable, reputable, trustworthy information about the 2017 Solar Eclipse:

American Astronomical Society


Starnet Libraries

Journaling in the Library- from Longfellow’s garden

posted: , by Abraham
tags: Programs & Events | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Art & Culture | Portland History

Portland Public Library’s Journaling group meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month, at 5:30, in the Portland Room. For July’s gathering we decided to meet at the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Garden, thanks to our wonderful neighbors at Maine Historical Society. (For the August 16th meeting, we’ll be back in the Portland Room, at 5:30.) One of our popular journaling prompts, to get the writing wheels turning, is something we call “write where you are.” We began the summer evening by seating ourselves in different parts of the garden, which offers plenty of nooks and perches. After 12 minutes, we gathered and read aloud what we came up with. Most of our participants sent in their choice excerpts from the exercise, and here they are:

“There are two trellises in front of the brick wall. They appear to be window frames but when one looks through them there is only the bricks. Windows to nowhere. This seems absurd just like the artist who painted ‘This is not a pipe.’ This is not a window.

Some people have windows that have nothing to see when peered out of. Others have windows that showcase spectacular views. Are they always appreciative of the view or does its ability to enthrall wane over time. The human mind enjoys variety. After a certain amount of time it is not aware of what is right in front of it. If sticky notes become ubiquitous the mind ignores them, searching for some fresh perspective to alight on.”

– Stephen

“The pathway of flagstone steps leads up and around through yellow day lilies and ferns. A birdbath sits at the top of the path but no birds are bathing at this moment though their song can be heard from where they perch on branches overhead.”

– Melissa

“A stream comes from lion’s mouth,
The stream hits the water beneath,

Every tree is different,
Dressed leaves or pods.
Some trees stretch their arms towards the sky.”

– Karen P.

“The living brick,
the wind in brick,
Tree stirred to swimming shadow
on the once-dead wall.”

– Rob

“Colorless sky, unconvincing siren, sea gulls sound their own alarm. A tiny ant makes its way across the sea of bricks, passing by another ant.  Writers return to their seats.”

Karen M.

“A stone lion always running his mouth, but forever in one place. This place, with black, iron benches forged with designs of grapes, not of wrath, but of respect for one’s solitude.”. In case someone has submitted a line referencing the lion or the grapes, and you do not wish the collaboration to fall redundant, here is another: “The garden is dressed head to toe in brick, but hidden within a concrete jungle.”

– Elizabeth

“They are red, purple
and white
Staring up at the sky
waiting to be noticed

Planted to stay
but free to climb

They change the
Of the green landscape.”

– Jennifer

“Writers are spread around the garden, surely pleasing Henry’s spirits! At the height of summer, the tress; verdant drapery are at their densest, and earthen aromas of boxwood waft with the breezes. All of this is situated right at the center of the city, and few have any idea this is here, along the busiest street in this state. But on scratch and scribe the writers in Hank’s back yard, scribbling with the seagulls and garden beetles.”– Abraham

(Items from the Library, about the Longfellow Garden!)




1,001 Mystery/Thrillers

posted: , by Patti DeLois
tags: Library Collections | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Art & Culture

As of August 1, our Tech Services team has added over 1,000 mystery/thrillers from Videoport to our catalog.

Browse “Videoport Mystery/Thrillers” and make your selections; have them delivered to the branch of your choice.

For suggestions, click here. And don’t forget to check out the dvd display at the Main Branch. Treat yourself to some thrills and chills on these hot summer nights.


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