MUSCATINE — Ashley Glasscock hopes her children will always remember the day the sun became a banana. Or a Pac-Man. Or if you crane your head just so, a smiley face. The “Great American Eclipse” was visible in Muscatine, reaching 90 percent totality. From their seats at Muscatine Community College’s quad, Evan, 9, Kylie, 6, Bailey, 5, and Aubrey, 5 watched in awe, likening its shape to things they knew.
Each had their own eclipse-watching glasses, courtesy of the Musser Public Library. Glasscock, who knew she wanted the children to watch the eclipse, got four pairs two weeks ago. She was wise to do it early, as the free glasses were in high demand. Library staff ordered two shipments of 100 glasses each, and each shipment was gone in a matter of hours.
The Second Avenue Hy-Vee also ordered glasses and, by the weekend, all of them were gone.
“Anytime I went out, they were always gone,” Gloasscock said about her search for glasses. “So I was getting them wherever I could.”
Glasscock got a fifth pair for herself at MCC, where college staff had arranged for an eclipse-watching party, ordering 500 pairs for the occasion. MCC Bookstore attendants distributed the glasses. They had been giving glasses away since 9 a.m. Monday. By about 12:40 p.m., glasses had run out. Glasscock was the last one to get a pair.
Sitting on their lawn chairs (Glasscock always has them in her car), the children looked through their glasses along with dozens of other people at MCC quad. And though glasses had run out, people were generous with the pairs they had, sharing them with others who didn’t have a pair.
As the moon shadow passed over the sun, the sun became a thin band of light. The sky darkened to an ominous gray, and the air grew cooler. It looked as though a storm was coming, but there was still light. Elsewhere in the United States, the moon covered the sun entirely and there was a moment of complete darkness. People who follow astronomy made reservations for these regions of totality more than a year ago.
But Glasscock was content with the 90 percent in Muscatine, especially since she didn’t have to drive long hours with four children in tow to see the eclipse.
“I think the kids would get more out of it than I would,” Glasscock said, surveying her children who were wiggling and talking excitedly.
Almost the entire family was there, except for the children’s dad, who had to work. Evan wanted him to see the eclipse.
“I was thinking of calling dad and then putting the eclipse glasses on (the phone),” he told his mom.
“That was very nice, but daddy is working,” Glasscock said.
As befitting a 21st Century eclipse, many people put the glasses over their phone lens, attempting to capture the eclipse for posterity or for social media. It was the first eclipse in nearly 100 years, with a shadow crossing the United States from coast-to-coast.
Glasscock did just that, though on her phone, the glowing band of light looked more like a tiny dot. Ever mindful of the rules, Evan put his glasses on the phone to protect his eyes, while he peaked at the photo of the sun.
Then he put his glasses on, and looked at the real deal.
“Come on, get there!” he yelled at the sky.
“Honey, you can’t speed it up,” Glasscock told him. “It’s not how it works.”