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‘I wouldn’t miss it for the world’: Dozens gather in Basalt to celebrate a rare solar eclipse

Aspen residents Peter Worth (far right), Maribeck Sirull (second from right) and their friends use special glasses to look at the partial eclipse outside the Basalt Library on Monday, April 8, 2024. The gathering was co-hosted by the library and the Aspen Science Center.
Eleanor Bennett
/
Aspen Public Radio
Aspen residents Peter Worth (far right), Maribeck Sirull (second from right) and their friends use special glasses to look at the partial eclipse outside the Basalt Library on Monday, April 8, 2024. The gathering was co-hosted by the library and the Aspen Science Center.

A large crowd gathered outside the Basalt Library on Monday afternoon for a viewing of the solar eclipse co-hosted by the Aspen Science Center.

The science center and the library set up tables outside with eclipse-viewing glasses, special binoculars and a telescope.

Baker Casagrande, who is the education director at the science center, was there giving out information about the science behind the eclipse.

He said a lot of people were wondering how something as small as the moon could block out the entire sun.

“The moon is about 400 times smaller than the sun, but it is also about 400 times closer, so the ratio is perfect, allowing the moon to perfectly cover up the sun when it’s in the right position,” he said.

Aspen Science Center Education Director, Baker Casagrande (far left), explains how to use special binoculars to view the solar eclipse outside the Basalt Library on Monday, April 8, 2024. While Colorado was not in the path of totality, a partial eclipse was visible across the state.
Eleanor Bennett
/
Aspen Public Radio
Aspen Science Center Education Director, Baker Casagrande (far left), explains how to use special binoculars to view the solar eclipse outside the Basalt Library on Monday, April 8, 2024. While Colorado was not in the path of totality, a partial eclipse was visible across the state.

In the Roaring Fork Valley, the sun was only about 60% covered by the moon, but a partial eclipse was still visible and the temperature dropped slightly at the height of the eclipse around 12:30 p.m.

Even though Colorado was not in the path of totality, Aspen resident Maribeck Sirull was excited to learn about the community eclipse celebration.

Sirull described herself as a “moon and sun chaser from the Philippines” and said she didn’t want to miss the occasion.

“This is only happens once in a blue moon and they say the next one will be in 2044, and if I’m still alive and blessed, I will be 98 years old by then,” Sirull said.

The partial solar eclipse seen through the camera lens of Basalt photographer Kemper Locke on Monday, April 8, 2024. Locke grew up in the valley and has been taking photography classes at Colorado Mountain College. “A few years ago I asked for a professional camera for my birthday,” he said. “And ever since I’ve been photographing cool events, and this was a pretty cool event.”
Kemper Locke
/
Courtesy Photo
The partial solar eclipse seen through the camera lens of Basalt photographer Kemper Locke on Monday, April 8, 2024. Locke grew up in the valley and has been taking photography classes at Colorado Mountain College. “A few years ago I asked for a professional camera for my birthday,” he said. “And ever since I’ve been photographing cool events, and this was a pretty cool event.”

Longtime local Steve Bascom also showed up on a break from his carpenting job to see the eclipse.

“Oh I wouldn’t miss it for the world, I wouldn’t miss it for anything,” he said. “I would’ve quit my job if everybody wouldn’t have gone to lunch.”

Bascom was using one of the DIY cardboard eclipse-viewing boxes that the library provided to view a tiny moon-shaped shadow of the eclipse.

He said it reminded him of the pinhole cameras he learned how to make at the Aspen Country Day School growing up.

Basalt elementary student Hazel Parenti and her parents, Jessica Garrow and Ted Parenti, were set up on the lawn with a telescope and eclipse glasses.

“It’s fun to have so many people here,” Garrow said. “We also saw the totality eclipse in 2017 in Casper, Wyoming and it was fun to be with a lot of people there. So it’s nice to be here this year and to have a community event.”

Hazel Parenti (far left) and her mother Jessica Garrow look through their eclipse glasses while Hazel’s dad, Ted Parenti, takes a photo of the partial eclipse outside the Basalt Library on Monday, April 8, 2024. The family was planning to travel to Texas, but decided to attend the community event in Basalt after they heard the weather was forecasted to be cloudy down south.
Eleanor Bennett
/
Aspen Public Radio
Hazel Parenti (far left) and her mother Jessica Garrow look through their eclipse glasses while Hazel’s dad, Ted Parenti, takes a photo of the partial eclipse outside the Basalt Library on Monday, April 8, 2024. The family was planning to travel to Texas, but decided to attend the community event in Basalt after they heard the weather was forecasted to be cloudy down south.

The family originally planned to travel to Texas this time to be in the path of totality, but decided to forgo the 30-hour drive when they heard cloudy weather was in the forecast.

Hazel Parenti, who is in 4th grade, was glad it was sunny in Basalt today and said she liked seeing the eclipse through her special glasses.

“So there’s like a circle and it looks like there’s a big chunk that got bitten out of it, so it’s like a crescent,” Parenti said.

The Aspen Science Center also co-hosted an eclipse viewing event in Carbondale outside the Third Street Center on Monday.

Eleanor is an award-winning journalist and "Morning Edition" anchor. She has reported on a wide range of topics in her community, including the impacts of federal immigration policies on local DACA recipients, creative efforts to solve the valley's affordable housing crisis, and hungry goats fighting climate change across the West through targeted grazing. Connecting with people from all walks of life and creating empathic spaces for them to tell their stories fuels her work.