It Was Only a Partial Eclipse, But Totally Worth the Wait at Griffith Observatory

Skygazers gathered before dawn at Griffith Observatory to stake out a seat on the lawn

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

At the Griffith Observatory, thousands of sky-gazers waited hours to view the eclipse, even though Southern California was treated only to a partial blocking of the sun by the moon. Many turned up before dawn, staking out seat on the lawn under the astronomers monument.

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.

"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 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.

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.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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