by Molly Gilmore for OLY ARTS

If you want to see Monday’s total eclipse of the sun, you’ll have to head south and brave what the Oregon Department of Transportation is already calling “the biggest traffic event in Oregon history.” The eclipse will reach 94 percent here in Thurston County, meaning the moon will block that percentage of the sun at maximum. The event will begin at 9:07 a.m., peak at 10:19 and end around 11:38. “Even though this seems like a lot, if you’re not aware there is an eclipse happening you might miss it,” said Shannon Pangalos-Scott, president of the Evergreen Astronomy Society. “It won’t get dark like it would if you were in the line of totality.”

But even if the traffic — or the idea of camping in your car — doesn’t appeal, you can still experience eclipse excitement. The Washington State Library’s Eclipse Celebration offers a chance to learn about the astronomical event and observe it safely. The library will have free, eclipse-viewing glasses to give out to the first 200 or so people who show up Monday morning (and sign a liability waiver). The event will also have a reflective projection-viewing area where those without eclipse glasses can take in the action. Representatives from the Evergreen and Tacoma Astronomical Societies will explain more about eclipses, though Pangalos-Scott herself will be in Oregon watching the total eclipse.

Joe Olayvar, info tech consultant for the library, notes that “parking is very, very limited and we strongly suggest using public transportation. The #13 bus will stop at our doorstep, more or less.”

You can take in the partial eclipse on your own, of course. It’s not safe to look directly at the sun, so you’ll have to be prepared with proper eyewear: glasses with solar filters made of ISO 12312-2-certified Mylar or a piece of no. 14 welding glass. You can also use a pinhole viewer to see the action indirectly; instructions for making one are available on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory website.

What: Eclipse Celebration

Where: Washington State Library,
6880 Capitol Blvd. SE, Tumwater

When: 8:30 a.m. – noon, Monday, Aug. 21

How much: free

Learn more: 360-704-5200 | Washington State Library