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  • Writer's pictureHillsboro City Library

City Librarian Attends American Astronomical Society Conference

Callie Pittman, of the Hillsboro City Library, recently travelled to Madison, Wisconsin to represent the Library at the 244th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in the culmination of the efforts put forth while working with the AAS. Out of 152 applicants, the Hillsboro City Library was 1 of 35 organizations to be awarded the Jay M. Pasachoff Solar Eclipse Mini-Grant from the AAS, which funded the Library’s Eclipse Funfest that was held in March of 2024. The AAS invited grant recipients to send a representative to their June meeting to report on the impact and success of the funds that were awarded. Pittman attended the Jay M. Pasachoff Solar Eclipse Mini-Grant program and sat on the Public Eclipse Events panel to share the reach and success of the Library’s Eclipse Funfest.

With the funding of the mini-grant, the Eclipse Funfest featured a mobile planetarium from Stars and Science Austin, performances from children’s entertainer Brett Roberts and retired National Park Astronomy Ranger Larry Smith, and a free space-themed book for each child that attended the event. Additionally, the Eclipse Funfest featured a 3-D educational display – The Moon: Cosmic Decoder Ring – from the Lunar and Planetary Institute, free eclipse glasses for each person that attended, and several eclipse-themed crafts and activities, including pinhole eclipse viewers. Outside, attendees were able to safely take a look at the sun through a solar telescope, sun-oculars, and a sunspotter. The Eclipse Funfest also offered free food, such as hotdogs, lemonade, popcorn, and other snacks, thanks to the Friends of the Hillsboro City Library.

The goal of the Eclipse Funfest was to educate the community about solar eclipses, encourage scientific exploration, and build excitement for the upcoming April 8th total solar eclipse, as Hillsboro was named the seventh best location to view the eclipse by Astronomer magazine, with 4 minutes and 23 seconds of totality visible from the small town. The Eclipse Funfest was a community-wide celebration of space and science that was full of education and excitement for all that attended. In the end, over 500 community members made their way to the event and the Eclipse Funfest was featured on local news station, KWTX.

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