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Partial eclipse brings full measure of fun
Oakdale residents Stan and Debbie Xavier were on hand at the Oakdale Library on Monday morning, April 8 with grandson Dirks Benbow, 4, and granddaughter Berklee Benbow, 2½, as they stopped by to join the viewing party for the solar eclipse, hosted by the Modesto Children’s Museum. Marg Jackson/The Leader

It may not have been a ‘total eclipse’ of the sun on Monday, April 8 but that didn’t stop a sizeable crowd from gathering at the Oakdale Library to make the most of the opportunity to safely view the celestial scene.

California was not in the path of totality – that was further east and north – but there was about a 35 percent coverage of the sun by the moon visible here, peaking about 11:15 a.m.

Library branches throughout Stanislaus County welcomed in representatives from the Modesto Children’s Museum, setting up activities, providing information on the eclipse and offering safe viewing ISO glasses for the occasion.

At Oakdale, Mikaila Tanner of the MoChiMu, as it’s referred to, set up in the pavilion area behind the library, with the visit starting well in advance of the eclipse and lasting about an hour after the peak.

“We’ve had some activities, we’ve had some great people come out here today and they’re enjoying their time here so far, we’re really excited,” Tanner explained.

She said the activities for the kids were designed to show them how to learn through play, which is a hallmark of the museum.

“We have some construction straws out that they get to go at in the way that they choose and we also have coloring sheets as well,” she added.

Tanner noted that the partnership between the Modesto-based museum and library branches throughout the county was one that served all participants well.

“It has been a lot of fun, we have enjoyed being able to communicate with them and partner with them throughout the county,” Tanner said.

The crowd that gathered included some grandparents bringing their grandchildren, families with preschoolers and some home-schooled students, as well as other interested residents.

Mom Roxanne Rangel of Oakdale brought her youngest daughter, five-year-old Minnie to experience it with her.

“We heard about it and I thought it would be really interesting to see, I’ve never seen it before and so far it’s really cool,” Rangel said shortly before 11 a.m., as the moon was continuing to cover the sun. “I’m really enjoying it.”

For her part, Minnie said looking at the orange glowing sun through the safety glasses reminded her of a full moon, even as the sun was slowly being covered by the moon.

Katie Wann of Oakdale was there with her children, whom she home schools.

“I found a free resource so I thought we could turn this into a cool little lesson and then on Saturday I came into the library and they said they were having a viewing party and I thought, how fun,” Wann said. “We can get out and see what’s going on. It’s awesome and awesome to see their reactions.”

‘Their’ reactions would be those of her children; son Ryan, 10, and daughter Madison, 9.

“When I heard there was going to be a partial here, I was like, that’s cool,” Ryan said of the chance to view the eclipse. “I like astronomy.”

Madison said she learned there were different types of eclipses and the most fun for her was “seeing half of the sun gone” – if even for just a short time.

Monday’s event here was a partial solar eclipse, with the moon moving in between the earth and the sun but not covering it totally.

If you didn’t get an opportunity to put on the safety glasses and look skyward, you have a little bit of a wait ahead for another chance. There isn’t expected to be another eclipse viewable in this part of the U.S. for another 20 years.

This photo shows the partial eclipse of the sun on Monday, April 8; viewers could use special glasses to get a look at this unique phenomenon. Roughly 35 percent of the sun was covered by the moon at the peak of the eclipse about 11:15 a.m. Photo Courtesy Of Lily Kendig