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.

Eclipse: A ‘Wow’ Moment for Young and Old

August 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

From rooftops, open fields, street corners and office windows, Angelenos turned their eyes to the sky today to catch a glimpse of the first solar eclipse visible in the United States since 1979.

At the Griffith Observatory, thousands of star-gazers waited hours to view the eclipse, even though Southern California was treated only to a partial blocking of the sun by the moon. 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.

But the celestial event still didn’t disappoint.

Dozens of people showed up at the Montebello and East Los Angeles libraries.

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

Four-year-old Nathan Solano, appropriately sporting a t-shirt with an image of the U.S. Flag —afer 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, to watch the moon block out two-third of the light from the sun.

With a wide smile on his face and his safety glasses on, Nathan Solano, 4, looks up at the sun during a solar eclipse watching event this morning at the East Los Angeles Library. Solano was among dozens of people enjoying the library’s live-streaming of the eclipse, the first total solar eclipse to be visible in the continental United States in 38 years, and the first in history to be only visible from U.S. soil. (EGP photo by Carlos Alvarez)

With a wide smile on his face and his safety glasses on, Nathan Solano, 4, looks up at the sun during a solar eclipse watching event this morning at the East Los Angeles Library. Solano was among dozens of people enjoying the library’s live-streaming of the eclipse, the first total solar eclipse to be visible in the continental United States in 38 years, and the first in history to be only visible from U.S. soil. (EGP photo by Carlos Alvarez)

In West Los Angeles, dozens of people took a break from their work day and gathered on a parking garage roof to take in the spectacle, even though lingering clouds obscured the view.

Hundreds gathered at viewing parties across the Southland, most notably at the observatory, but also at the Los Angeles State Historic Park, city and county libraries, Caltech, UCLA, USC and the California Science Center.

The lawn in front of the Griffith Observatory was transformed into a sea of humanity in what became a massive sky-watching party.

“It’s surreal. It’s so bizarre,” West Los Angeles sky-gazer Gail Carter told City News Service. “I thought it would be darker to be honest, more of a cloudy feeling day.”

Fellow eclipse-watcher Jonathan Levy summed up the importance of catching the spectacle.

“It’s probably once in a lifetime,” he said.

In reality, another solar eclipse is expected to reach totality across some of the United States in April 2024. A less sun-blocking “Ring of Fire” eclipse is expected on Oct. 14, 2023, and is expected to be visible from parts of California.

“It’s such an uncommon event, that I wanted to experience it,” one sky-gazer said while holding two pieces of paper, one with a pinhole in it, outside Los Angeles Police Department headquarters downtown.

One LAPD officer continued to warn people not to stare at the celestial event and damage their eyes— even if they do have eclipse glasses.

“I hope people don’t get hurt,” the officer said. “The light is stronger than you think. Why would you risk your million-dollar eyes on a $1.99 pair of glasses?”

The observation deck on the 27th floor of Los Angeles City Hall was a popular viewing post, as dozens of tourists and city workers jammed into the east side of the deck to get a view.

Sandra Shields of Palmdale was on a day trip to Los Angeles for sightseeing and said one of her friends suggested the observation deck, which is free and open to the public any time City Hall is open.

“A friend of ours, she had been here before and she was taking us around town and mentioned that there is an observation deck here at City Hall, so we decided why not. And since it’s eclipse day, we’ll always remember that,” Shields said.

Kevin Jew, who works for Project Restore with the Board of Public Works, came prepared and brought a few welding masks and shared them with anyone who needed a safe way to view the eclipse.

“I brought all the welding masks that I had at home,” said Jew, who added that he was on a break from work.

Not all city workers were on a sanctioned break. One man with a city badge identified himself as Leon but did not want to state his last name or what department he works in because he was technically supposed to be working.

“I just wanted to witness history today. I don’t think any of us up here have ever seen this before, so I just wanted to get a quick glimpse,” he said.

EGP Staff Writer Carlos Alvarez contributed to this story.

Viewing ‘The Great American Eclipse’

August 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Angelenos may not be able to see the first full Solar Eclipse of the Sun visible in the United States since 1979, but that’s not stopping them from getting in on the excitement.

Taking place on Monday, Aug. 21, it will be the first time in history that a total eclipse is exclusively visible from U.S. soil, the University of Southern California said in a statement quoting several experts associated with the university.

Courtesy of NASA

Courtesy of NASA

Viewing events for “The Great American Eclipse,” as it’s being called, are planned for a variety of locations, from the Griffith Park Observatory to local libraries. Experts will be on hand to help explain the science to those who attend.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the earth and the sun and completely blocks out the light from the sun. The first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in the U.S. in 99 years will start at approximately 9:05 a.m. local time. At the height of the eclipse, the moon will block out the sun for 2-3 minutes.

“The path of totality is a relatively thin ribbon, around 70 miles wide, that will cross the U.S. from West to East,” according to NASA, In other regions, the eclipse will only be observed as a partial eclipse, or not visible at all.

Lincoln Beach, Oregon will be the first point of contact on Monday at 9:05 a.m., reaching total eclipse at 10:16 a.m.

For the next hour and a half, it will cross through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. The total eclipse will end near Charleston, South Carolina at 2:48 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, leaving the U.S. at 4:09 p.m.

Solar_eclipse_Aug_21_2017_smallWhile the full solar eclipse will not be visible in the Southland, scientist say residents here will be able to see the moon cover 70% of the sun’s diameter, 60% of the sun’s area.

“The solar eclipse provides an opportunity for the public to experience a rare planetary phenomenon,” said Michael Kezirian, adjunct associate professor of astronautics at USC. “Our live streaming from the atmosphere along with the other schools in the NASA space grant consortium will offer unique views in real time of this amazing event,” he said.

While there is a great deal of excitement surrounding the eclipse, people should take precautions when trying to get a look, eclipse experts advise. They warn that looking directly at the sun could cause permanent damage to a person’s vision, and urge residents to use eyeglasses and other devices specially designed for that purpose.

“Directly looking at the solar eclipse is as harmful as sun gazing on a regular day,” said Hossein Ameri, an assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at the USC Roski Eye Institute at Keck Medicine of USC. He said it could cause damage in the retina, resulting in vision loss.

“In mild cases, the vision loss may be reversible over the course of several months, but in severe cases it is permanent,” Ameri said. “It affects the central vision — affected individuals may not be able to read or see faces — but it does not affect the peripheral vision.”

USC advises eclipse watchers to follow these tips to avoid vision loss:

—Never look at the sun or solar eclipse without eye protection: Use solar eclipse glasses [eclipse viewers] that have been approved by the American Astronomical Society.

—Sunglasses, no matter how dark, are not protective.

—Do not use eclipse glasses that are damaged or have a scratch on them.

—If using a binocular, camera or telescope, wearing eclipse glasses does not protect your eyes; the sun-facing front lens of the device should be shielded with specially designed filters.

EGP has compiled a list of  local eclipse-watching events, to view, click here.

 

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