The front lawn of the Klamath County Museum was crowded Monday morning with people hoping to watch the Great American Eclipse as it passed over Oregon.

The museum’s eclipse party was free to the public with telescopes, viewing glasses and educational games for kids and families to enjoy.

“This is a fantastic turnout,” said Kenneth Doutt, museum outreach coordinator.

Teaching opportunity

Doutt said the goal was to help educate the public about the eclipse, including games that taught children how the moon will cast a shadow on the Earth. One popular game allowed kids to pass a mini Oreo in front of a larger Oreo to create their own cookie eclipse.

Doutt said the museum was also able to clear up misconceptions such as the belief this will be the last eclipse people can view in their lifetimes. An annular eclipse, which will cover most rather than all of the sun, will pass over Oregon in 2023, and Doutt said Monday provided a good opportunity to share such information.

“That’s what we’re here to do,” he said.

Amateur educators

Members of the community also provided their own educational experiences such as Chris Tipton, who brought his personal telescope and let people take turns looking at a diffused image of the eclipse. He said the eclipse passing directly over Oregon provided residents with a unique way to come outside and experience a rare celestial event.

“It’s more than just the four walls of their apartment or their home,” he said.

Tipton also said events such as the eclipse party were “extremely vital” and said the museum was helping people share an historical experience.

“What’s going on right now is tomorrow’s history,” he said.

Kids young and old

Looking through Tipton’s telescope was 6-year-old Job Cable, whose mother, Laura, said she was glad to bring her children to the eclipse party. She said the event represented a learning opportunity was well as a chance to connect with fellow Klamath Falls residents.

“It brings the community together for a shared experience,” said Laura Cable.

And it wasn’t just the younger children who had a good time. Lilly DeMasters, 12, Tyler Holt, 13, and Isabella Clay, 14, said they had enjoyed the event.

“Everyone here is really nice,” said DeMasters.

“It was really cool being able to see the sun through these glasses,” said Holt.

“It’s cool,” said Clay.

Both DeMasters and Holt said they expected the sky would be much darker when they arrived, though Klamath Falls was far enough from the path of totality that 7.5 percent of the sun was still exposed at the height of the eclipse. Clay said she was surprised to see crescent-shaped shadows cast through tree leaves as the moon obscured the sun and said she had never seen anything like it.

Far-flug travelers

Expecting such exotic shadows was Julia Jackson, who brought her own colander to see a pattern of little crescents as the eclipsed neared its height. Jackson said she was happy to see so many people at the party to celebrate what she saw as “a really wonderful, mysterious event.”

And not only locals were at the party, but people such as Julie Hart was in town from Ft Worth, Texas. Hart was visiting brother, James Fauvre, of Klamath Falls, and said she was excited to also be so close to the path of totality.

“This is very exciting,” she said of the eclipse. “(It’s) all I could think about.”

Hart said she would still have enjoyed being in the path of totality, but said being at the eclipse party was enjoyable.

“It’s nature and it’s beautiful and I wanted to experience it,” she said.

Museum’s goal

Museum Curator Niles Reynolds said this was not the first natural history event the museum has been able to host and said star viewing parties occur every few months throughout the year. He said having such a crowd turn out for the eclipse party was not surprising and the event helped fulfill their goal of reaching out to the community.

“That’s our mission, is public service,” he said.

For more museum event information, call 541-882-1000 or go to klamathcountymuseum.squarespace.com.

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