Shared ‘Celestial’ Experience Captivates SoCal

August 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Friends, families and colleagues put life’s daily routines on hold for a few minutes Monday as they tried to get a look at the first total solar eclipse in the United States in 38 years.

Although the eclipse reached “totality” in a roughly 70-mile-wide path stretching from Oregon to South Carolina, the Southland saw only about 62 percent of the sun obscured.

Nonetheless, the celestial event was not something to be missed, nor did it disappoint the thousands of star-gazers at the Griffith Park Observatory and dozens of other local venues who waited hours to view the eclipse in what turned out to be one of the biggest social media events in recent times.

Dozens of people showed up at the Montebello, East Los Angeles and other city and county of Los Angeles libraries.

They gathered as families or groups of friends, and a few lone individuals wanting to share the experience with other eclipse watchers.

At the East L.A. Library, four-year-old Nathan Solano, appropriately sporting a t-shirt with an image of the U.S. Flag — after all, this was the first time in history a full solar eclipse was exclusively visible from U.S. soil — was excited to put on his approved, solar viewing glasses. With his father watching, he got his first look in his young life at a solar eclipse, a “wow” moment that brought a broad smile to his face.

For Suzanne Johnson, who attended the viewing event at the Montebello Public Library, it was a chance to share a rare and exciting experience with her eight-year-old son Jacob Johnson Rico.

Johnson recalled seeing the 1978 eclipse at the age of nine. “It was a special moment” that she shared with her parents, Johnson excitedly told EGP.

“I want my son to have that same memory when he’s older,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t miss this opportunity to share it with him!”

While Johnson was reliving her childhood, others like Tracy Fish and Lilian Pineda were excited to be making first-time memories with people close to them.

Tracy on Monday sat in the grass with her nine-year-old son Connor, reading to him from a book about eclipses as they patiently waited for the solar event to begin. Connor, his eyes focused on the book, sat still as his mother read, eventually reacting excitedly to what he’d just heard; “Wow that’s amazing,” he said, his face lighting up as his mother showed him pictures of a solar eclipse.

While Tracy, a Montebello resident enjoyed the proximity of the viewing event, Pineda and her friend Jesus Tejada made the hour plus drive from Northridge to take part in the Montebello Library activities. They pair wanted to watch the eclipse from where they’d grown up, Tejada explained.

Solar-watchers at the East Los Angeles viewing event were treated to snacks as they watched live coverage of the eclipse on a large screen.

Outside the library, guests shared solar viewing glasses with those who didn’t have any. Others used handcrafted projectors of paper and foil to track the movement of the moon across the sun.

There for her first solar eclipse experience, East Los Angeles resident Ofelia Alonso witnessed the celestial phenomena through solar viewing glasses, photographing the image on her cellphone.

It’s “beautiful” she said, passing her phone to others so they too could see her captured moment in time.

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