Members of Boy Scout Troop 580 of Rumford view the solar eclipse at the Mexico Recreation Park on Monday. The boys prepared viewers made of cardboard boxes. From left are Connor Halacy, 11; Miles Smith, 10; Brandon Albanesi, 10; Shaun Child, 14; and Jacob True, 16.

Kendall Merrill, 6, of Auburn watches the solar eclipse at its peak viewing time of 2:45 p.m. Monday on the lawn at the Auburn Public Library.

Cade Merrill, 12, and his mother, Bethany, of Auburn watch the solar eclipse on the lawn of the Auburn Public Library on Monday afternoon.

Cindi Byrkit, left, and Kendall Merrill, 6, both of Auburn, watch the solar eclipse at its peak viewing time of 2:45 p.m. Monday on the lawn at the Auburn Public Library.

Lucille Leclair of Lewiston and Enoil Boutot of Auburn watch the solar eclipse from the lawn at the Auburn Public Library on Monday afternoon.

Lucille Leclair of Lewiston and Enoil Boutot of Auburn, center, watch the solar eclipse from the lawn at the Auburn Public Library on Monday afternoon.

Bates College President Clayton Spencer, right, looks through a homemade solar eclipse-viewing platform Monday afternoon, made by Bates professor Matthew Cote, left. “Last night, when I came across this speed graphic camera my father used, I had an idea. We taped a piece of welders glass from a colleague’s mask and with one of my optic lenses from the lab (which Spencer is holding); you can move it back and forth to focus the image you get a pretty good look at it (the eclipse),” Cote said. Fellow professors, staff and friends and family gathered in the Bates quad Monday afternoon with a variety of high-priced and homemade devices assembled to pass around to view the event.

The solar eclipse is seen through a long tube made from an old poster rolled up by Bates College professor of chemistry Paula Schlax. She brought it to the campus quad Monday afternoon where professors, staff, family and friends gathered with homemade and expensive optics to view the rare event.

Lee Holman of Hartford looks through a welder’s mask at Monday’s solar eclipse in front of Cafe Nomad on Main Street. Holman was one of several people standing in front of Cafe Nomad, each using their own unique method of looking at the eclipse. 

Joshua Stinchfield stops work for a few minutes to watch the eclipse in Farmington on Monday afternoon.

Joshua Stinchfield shares his eclipse-viewing glasses with Emily Nutt on the campus of the University of Maine at Farmington on Monday.

Viewing party of one

For three hours Monday, the Lewiston Public Library ran a projector with NASA’s livestream coverage of the eclipse as it crept across the country.

With the time almost here, it had one taker, sitting alone in the cool, dark room.

She’d been there an hour. The woman, who declined to give her name, had seen plenty of posts online about how to make your own eclipse viewer. This seemed safer, she said.

As 2:45 p.m. approached, coverage of Charleston, South Carolina, covered the screen, that city moments from totality.

Excited crowds there cheered. Almost.

Blink.

Out.

“Impressive,” she said. “It’s hard to describe, something like this. It’s awesome and beautiful in its way.”

— Kathryn Skelton

Homemade lens draws beachgoers

At Kineowatha Park in Wilton, Georgette Starnes was reading a book while her grandson, Brendan, swam in Wilson Lake. She had tried to find a program in her hometown of Jay to attend, but the library was closed. They had made a makeshift projection screen at home but her husband, Dale Starnes, had called 20 minutes ago to say he had put two welding lenses together to view the eclipse and was on his way.

“I took advantage of the two events while my daughter works,” Georgette said. “It’s a gorgeous day. This is just fabulous.”

When Dale arrived, several beachgoers took turns looking through his lenses while Brendan made his way from the water.

“If this was a total eclipse, you might not see it. I used a Safety Number (SN) 9 and a SN 10, which is more than the SN 5 and SN 11 the internet said is needed to protect the eyes. It’s not linear — nine plus nine doesn’t equal 18,” Dale said.

As he looked through the lenses, Brendan exclaimed, “The world is all black!”

“It’s already changed,” Dale said when he looked again.

— Pam Harnden

The verdict in Auburn: ‘Super cool’

When the moon covered as much of the sun as it would Monday, 9-year-old Dominic Rainey sat in a chair on the lawn in front of the Auburn Public Library, his attention focused entirely on the book his hands, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”

But Rainey, who lives in Sabattus, wasn’t oblivious to the show overhead.

It’s just that he’d already looked up enough to determine that it was both great and “pretty cool.”

Rainey confessed, though, that his mom “dragged me here” to the viewing party at the library against his will. But, he said, he’s glad she did.

Rainey was one of about 50 people who gathered in little groups to gawk at the sun through all sorts of items that aimed to make it safe enough to see, from a little square of very dark glass to an Amazon box.

Matt Jones of Auburn watched the moon block out part of the sun through the box he’d taped up, putting holes through it so he could look at the sun’s reflection on a sheet of white paper.

“It’s super cool,” he said.

All around, people were nibbling on whoopie pies handed out to anyone who looked eager enough, capturing the circular nature of the celestial event overhead but containing quite a bit more calories.

George Stanley of Greene, wearing a T-shirt that bragged he was “literally the most awesome person in the universe,” looked upward in appreciation at the moment someone described as totality. It was closer to partiality because only three-fifths of the sun was obscured by the moon at 2:45 p.m.

Many of those who came were sitting and staring toward the heavens through little cardboard glasses with specially made lenses that were so dark that nothing could be seen through them except the sun.

“It’s amazing how small it’s gotten,” Jamie Pratt of Auburn said. She said it looked wonderful but she had suspected the sky would wind up darker than it actually was.

Bethany Merrill, also of Auburn, said the children had looked forward to the eclipse for a week. They didn’t know what to expect, she said.

But they echoed the verdict of many.

“Pretty cool,” Merrill summarized for them.

— Steve Collins

‘Classic solar view boxes’ from Ralph’s store used to view eclipse

MEXICO — Five Boy Scouts from Troop 580 in Rumford, their families and Scoutmaster Richard Masterson gathered at the Mexico Recreation Park an hour before the eclipse Monday to prepare cardboard boxes to view the rare spectacle in the sky.

There weren’t any eclipse-viewing glasses left in the area, Masterson said, so he got the boxes at his employer, Ralph’s Store-Deli in Rumford.

The eclipse occurs when the moon covers the sun, Connor Halacy, 11, said while working on his classic eclipse-viewing box.

After making the boxes and peering into them to see the white crescent-shaped reflection of the eclipse, the boys watched their scoutmaster try using some other items that weren’t quite as successful in producing the reflection — a colander and a binocular lens.

Scouts viewing the eclipse were Halacy, 11; Miles Smith, 10; Brandon Albanesi, 10; Shaun Child, 14; and Jacob True, 16.

Each scout will earn his Solar Eclipse 2017 patch after watching a clip about the eclipse and viewing it, Masterson said.

— Marianne Hutchinson

Hazy but very cool 

FARMINGTON — Joshua Stinchfield stopped work for a moment and gazed through his special glasses to see a partially covered sun on Monday afternoon.

“It (the eclipse) has been built up for weeks,” he said. “We don’t get to see this all the time, so it was worth purchasing glasses.”

Stinchfield shared the glasses as people walked by his construction truck parked at the University of Maine at Farmington. He had called his mother, Jane Stinchfield, and told her she needed to come see the solar event.
A less-than-bright summer afternoon was the only difference seen in Farmington.
“I thought it would be more like dusk,” Jane Stinchfield said. “The sunshine is just not as bright or intense. It is more hazy.”
But, if you don’t look at it with the glasses, it is way too bright, Stinchfield told her.
He offered the glasses to Emily Nutt as she walked past his vehicle. She was hesitant at first because there has been so much talk about glasses that were not really equipped for eclipse viewing.
Stinchfield purchased five pair through Amazon for about $35 plus postage, he said. It was worth it, but he admitted the glasses were pretty flimsy.
“It is going fast,” he said. “But, it is very cool.”
— Ann Bryant

At Kineowatha Park on Monday afternoon, Brendan looks at the solar eclipse through a viewing device his grandfather, Dale Starnes, left, made with welding lenses. Grandmother Georgette Starnes is also seen.

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