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Solar Eclipse Transfixes Sacramento-Area Skywatchers

Julia Mitric / Capital Public Radio

Julia Mitric / Capital Public Radio

Powerhouse Science Center Viewing Event

A festival atmosphere transformed the Powerhouse Science Center in Sacramento Monday as hundreds of people came out for a telescope view of the partial solar eclipse. 

Grandparents and teens sported eclipse shades and goggles. Young children toted cereal boxes they'd hacked into "cameras." One woman carried a colander.

Hundreds of locals and visitors from as far away as Bombay - eagerly lined up for a quick peek into telescopes set up by the Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society.

Les Lockren, a volunteer for the day, explained how the center's hydrogen teleescope works.

"So what it does is it filters all the visible spectrum of light except for hydrogen gas, which is red," says Lockren. "Which is why when you look through this telescope, you see a red sun instead of yellow sun." 

Lockren steadies the telescope for Eriquetta Johnson, 32. It's her first solar eclipse .

"It looks like a rainbow, but red," says Johnson. "It was beautiful."

The "pros" from the astronomical society were just as pumped up as the ten year olds in the crowd. They called out when the peak was just minutes away. 

Older folks swapped stories about solar eclipses of their youth while a fifth grader told her friends the sun looked like a red banana.

And when the peak occurred, you could tell just by listening. There was an audible cheer from the crowd.

Leslie Harbaugh let her 6-year-old daughter, Stella, play hooky to see the partial solar eclipse and she was glad she did.

"There's all these people from all backgrounds and all ages and we're all transfixed on this one thing," says Harbaugh. "Things have been so divisive and there's been so much fighting — and worse. And I felt like it's kind-of nice to see that there is something that can still bring us together. It reminds you that we're all in this together."

Eclipse Excitement In Full Effect For Yuba City Kids

Enthusiasm was in full effect at one Yuba City school. Teachers shepherded children outside in manageable groups during Monday's solar eclipse.

Eclipse Impresses Yuba City School Children

Sac State Scientists Lead Massive Eclipse Viewing Party

From shoeboxes to giant telescopes, eclipse seekers at Sacramento State had their pick of viewing devices at the campus watch party Monday. Hundreds gathered near the Guy West bridge to see the scientific phenomenon.

The lawn was packed, with lines of people waiting to see the sun through telescopes. The university already had the equipment but had to outfit it with specific eclipse lenses, astronomy students said.

University volunteers also gave out white placards with squares of protective material for eclipse viewing. Onlookers were quick to offer glasses to fellow attendees.

Professor Barniol Duran, of the physics department, said he was pleased to see so many community members out for the historic event.

“We want to get people excited about the science,” he said. “That is an astronomical coincidence, and that is something that I love.”

Sacramento was not in the 70-mile ‘path of totality’ for the eclipse, but that didn’t deter people from coming out.

Julianna Guerrero, a 4th year student at Sacramento State, said she tried viewing the eclipse through two different types of telescopes, and a university - provided welding mask.

She said she’s never been interested in astronomy before, but couldn’t resist the big event.

“It’s rare, and it’s free, so I’m out here,” Guerrero said.

The last solar eclipse over North America was in 1979. The next will be in 2024.

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