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Pittsfield Mayor Peter Marchetti joins the eclipse viewers at the Common on Monday afternoon.
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Berkshire County Views the Eclipse

By Sabrina Damms & Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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The day was clear and warm, perfect for gathering on the lawn at the North Adams Public Library. Dozens of people watched the astronomical show from blankets and lawn chairs. The library handed out about 650 eclipse glasses leading up to the event. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The partial solar eclipse was seen and heard in the city as people turned out to experience the celestial event in various locations. 
 
It lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours and Berkshire County had a peak of 95 percent coverage at 3:27 p.m., when it appeared to be sundown and there was a chill in the air from the lack of light. 
 
The Berkshire Athenaeum held a Teen Neon Party with a livestream in the auditorium and a music-filled black light dance party with DJ Chris Plankey. The Common was alive with city staff and community members for an informal viewing party. 
 
UCP of Western Massachusetts held a "sound for all" hearing of the eclipse at its offices at the Clock Tower Building with a LightSound device that allows people with all levels of sight to experience the eclipse aurally. UCP was the only place between Albany, N.Y., and Springfield to have the devices.
 
The device was developed by Harvard and Smithsonian University in 2017 as a tool to allow the blind and low-vision community to experience a solar eclipse. 
 
"When the sun is fully out, a loud, bright flute sound plays. When the moon eclipses the sun, a lower-tone clarinet starts playing. As you reach full totality, the sound will stop, and clicking will sound," the education flyer reads. 
 
The small device uses sonification, which converts data, in this case light intensity, into sound. The project had a goal of distributing more than 750 devices distributed at no cost to organizations hosting eclipse events. 
 
"As the Moon eclipses the Sun during a Solar Eclipse, the sunlight begins to dim, and the LightSound device will output a change in musical tone," the LightSound Project website says. 
 
A dozen organizations attended the event, Elizabeth Irwin, assistant manager of fundraising and communications, said. 
 
"One in four families in Berkshire County and in the Pioneer Valley have a disabled person living with them. So, this is very important for families as a chance for them to come and really share this major event," Irwin said.
 
"It's all over the news. It's all over everywhere, and they can include everybody in the family." 
 
As soon as event organizers at UPC heard about this device on National Public Radio they jumped at the opportunity and was lucky enough to be one of the first organizations, Iris Long, UCP assistive technology regional center director, said. 
 
"They ended up doing workshops to allow all the public to come in and try to make these devices. Their goal with this device is to make it as cheap and easy to produce so everyone could have a chance to listen to this," she said. 
 
"In the like few months that they had to work on this, they made over 950 devices, and those are all there across the country right now. So, we're very lucky to have one and very lucky to use this technology, which I think will become even bigger."
 
"[The device] gives you another way of being able to experience something special for the blind that wasn't available just a few years ago," Phillip Shallies said. 
 
Shallies has been blind for more than 40 years and has been a member of the Berkshire Benevolent Association for the Blind. The association is a support group that refers the blind and visually impaired to resources that help them feel more independent and enjoy their lives. 
 
They also create opportunities that make the blind and visually impaired feel more part of the community.
 
Solar eclipse viewing glasses were a hot commodity for the Berkshire Athenaeum, as it received 500 pairs and distributed them with ease before the event even began. 
 
Lights were off in the library's auditorium which was decked out with lights and glow-up activities for the Teen Neon Party. Young Adult Librarian Vanessa Justice explained that this is a safe space for the kids to socialize, learn about the eclipse, and hang out in a safe space. 
 
The teens also had snacks and pizza to mark the occasion. 
 
Justice anticipated up to 30 teen attendees for the event that was funded through book sales made by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum. 
 
"I have a teen advisory board so I asked them their opinions on what they want to see at the library and this was one of the things that they came up with," she explained. 
 
"They love making slime so we have glow-in-the-dark slime. They really wanted glow sticks and all this fun stuff." 
 
The library has hosted two other teen parties and had a great turnout, she reported.  The next big event is a summer reading party that the teens will plan. 
 
The Parks Department played an eclipse mix at The Common with songs like The Animals' hit "House of the Rising Sun." 
 
"This was an impromptu event we pulled together. We know that the Common is the heart of our downtown and look at it," Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said, pointing to the park full of people enjoying the view through eclipse glasses. 
 
"We couldn't be happier that folks are gathering in the community here," he said. 
 
Mayor Peter Marchetti and members of the Department of Community Development also joined the watch party. 
 
Dina and Charles Hochbaum and sisters Nan and Maxine Bookless were amongst the many enjoying the celestial event at The Common, having brought their chairs and snacks to maximize the experience. 
 
The group saw that there was going to be a "big party" at the city park. 
 
"I'm in awe of this," Nan Bookless said, pointing to the wonder of being on the earth watching the moon move in front of the sun. 

In North Adams, people were out and about Main Street, ditching the office for a little bit to get a glimpse of the astronomical event. The public library offered a lawn viewing and dozens of people came with blankets and chairs to settle in for the two-hour passage. 

 
"We were very pleased with the number of people that turned out. We had 650 or so sets of solar eclipse glasses and they all disappeared -- being given out to people not vanished," laughed library volunteer Gareth Williams. "We had a good range of people here and questions and I think people were interested to see it and they could actually see the effect as it got cold. It got noticeably colder just as the eclipse progressed and now it's getting lighter again. But it's been an interesting experience."
 
He had hoped to set up a livestream of the eclipse on a screen but technical issues prevented that. 
 
"The problem was that although we could get the telescope to point to the sun and track it, for some reason, which we still can't explain, the detector didn't produce an image even though the laptop detected the device," Williams said. 
 
The telescope arrived more than a week ago, purchased through the astronomy gift left by the late state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, but the weather had not been cooperative in practicing its use. 
 
Monday dawned bright and warm, a big difference from last week's snow and ice. 
 
Swan Kusek and When Leggett had walked down the street to set up chairs on the library lawn to spend a couple hours watching the event. 
 
"It was great, it was fantastic," said Kusek, who like so many others tried to capture the eclipse on his phone. 
 
Peggy Winslow had brought along something she'd used teaching science at the former Conte Middle School: a radiometer, a device that indicates the intensity of light by the speed its little vanes spin. 
 
"When it was first, you know before it started, it was spinning really fast," said Winslow. "And then when it got you know kind of twilight, it stopped spinning and now it's starting to spin again."
 
The North Adams resident had seen the 2017 eclipse in Montana.
 
"There wasn't totality, but it wasn't here either," she said. "I would have liked to have seen it. I was debating if I should go up to Vermont but yeah, decided to stay in North Adams. This is fine."

 


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Post 68 Seniors Top Westfield

WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Matt Burega pitched a complete game Tuesday to lead the Pittsfield Post 68 Seniors to a 4-1 win over Westfield in American Legion Baseball action at Bullens Field.
 
Jack Reed doubled, and Ben Jacob hit a two-run single for Post 68.
 
Pittsfield (1-0) is home against Northampton Post 28 on Wednesday evening at Clapp Park.
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