A special total eclipse event was presented in the South Pasadena Library Community Room on Monday.

Dr. Bonnie Buratti, a senior research scientist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and author of the new book, “Worlds Fantastic, Worlds Familiar: A Guided Tour of the Solar System,” offered illuminating perspective on the total solar eclipse. She also answered audience questions before authoritative coverage of the eclipse from NASA and the Exploratorium in San Francisco was projected onto a giant screen.

 

Solar eclipses occur when the moon passes between the earth and the sun to cast a shadow on the earth’s surface.

“I’m really gratified that astronomy holds the public’s interest so much,” said Buratti, scanning the crowded room.

Dr. Bonnie Buratti

She called the eclipse “awesome” while talking about America’s fascination with it. “Anyone who has ever witnessed a solar eclipse, the movement of the moon in front of the sun, will never forget it,” she said.

Special NASA cameras and telescopes were on the path of totality in Oregon and Wyoming with a live broadcast, along with enlightening commentary.

After her presentation, Dr. Buratti led audience members outside into Library Park where they took turns sharing eclipse glasses.

Dr. Buratti is a principal scientist and technical manager at JPL with expertise on the structure and evolution of icy moons and other small bodies. She holds degrees in astronomy from MIT and Cornell.

Additionally, Buratti is currently serving on the science teams for both the Cassini and New Horizons missions, and is also the NASA project scientist for the Rosetta Mission to a comet.

The author or co-author of more than 200 scientific papers, Dr. Buratti was awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, and the International Astronomical Union recognized her work by naming an asteroid after her.

As a special treat, “Moon Pies” were provided by the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library. They have been part of American culture since 1917 and consist of two round graham cracker cookies, with marshmallow filling in the center, dipped in a flavored coating. Moon Pies are made by the Chattanooga Bakery in Chattanooga, TN.

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