Libraries to host solar eclipse viewing parties


Lamar County public libraries in Purvis, Sumrall, Lumberton and Oak Grove have scheduled viewing parties and festivities as the solar eclipse arrives around lunchtime Monday.

Glasses to view the eclipse will be available at each branch on a first-come, first-served basis only on Monday. Purvis, Sumrall and Lumberton will have the viewing from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., which includes all of the eclipse, while Oak Grove will be watching the sun from 1-2:30 p.m., when the eclipse is at its maximum.

Dr. Chris Sirola, associate professor of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Southern Mississippi, said eclipse watchers must make sure that their glasses are safe.

“The favorites that are around right now have all been sold out,” he said. “The regular manufacturers have been drained. So I would be wary of the cheap knockoffs. NASA came out with a list of approved manufacturers earlier this week, so I would follow that list.”

The path of totality, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun's tenuous atmosphere - the corona - can be seen, will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun's disk.

Sirola said the Hattiesburg area will see a little more than 80 percent of a total eclipse. The first hint of the eclipse will be at 11:57 a.m., the eclipse will reach its maximum at 1:27 p.m. and it will be finished at 2:57 p.m.

Sirola said he will have his students performing experiments during the eclipse.

“They are going to see if the eclipse can affect the temperatures,” he said.

So where will Sirola be to watch it?

“I’m taking the family to Greenville, South Carolina,” he said. “We have some family in the area, so we will stay with them. The traffic is expected to massive. Imagine a major football game and multiply it by four.”